The purpose of this study was to clarify the effect of swallowing disorders on functional decline in community-dwelling older adults receiving home care. This was a 1-year follow-up survey of 176 individuals ≥60 years living at home and receiving homecare services, without total dependence in basic daily living activities, in two mid-sized municipalities in Fukuoka, Japan. Functional decline was measured using the Barthel index (BI), and the primary outcome was total dependence in basic daily living activities (BI ≤ 20 points). Swallowing function was assessed using cervical auscultation, and the primary predictor was swallowing disorders. Logistic regression models were used to assess univariate and multivariate associations between baseline swallowing function and functional decline during follow-up. During follow-up 16 (9.1%), the participants became totally dependent in basic daily living activities. The participants with swallowing disorders had 6.41 times higher odds of total dependence in basic daily living activities compared to participants with normal swallowing function. After adjusting for potential confounders, swallowing disorders were significantly associated with higher odds of total dependence in basic daily living activities (odds ratio = 5.21, 95% confidence interval = 1.33-20.44). Regarding swallowing disorders, the corresponding population attributable fraction (%) of the incidence of total dependence in basic daily living activities was 50.4%. The current findings demonstrated that swallowing disorders were associated with greater risk of functional decline in basic daily living activities among older adults living at home and receiving home nursing care. Maintenance and improvement of swallowing function may prevent late-life functional decline.
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