Singapore Institute of Technology
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Longitudinal associations of housework with frailty and mortality in older adults: Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study 2

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posted on 2023-11-23, 09:23 authored by Shuen Yee Lee, Ma Shwe Zin Nyunt, Qi Gao, Xinyi Gwee, Denise Qian Ling Chua, Keng Bee Yap, Shiou Liang WeeShiou Liang Wee, Tze Pin Ng


Housework may provide a sustainable form of physical activity for older adults and improve health and survival outcomes. Longitudinal studies on associations between housework status over time and health outcomes are lacking. We aim to assess the longitudinal association of intensity and duration of housework with frailty and mortality outcomes.


Among 3270 community-dwelling prospective cohort study participants, aged ≥55 years, data on light housework (N=2996) and heavy housework (N=3022) were available at baseline (March 6, 2009, to June 11, 2013) and follow-up at 3 to 5 years later, (January 16, 2013 to August 24, 2018). Median time spent per week on light (≥420min/week) and heavy (>0min/week) household activities at baseline and follow-up were used to categorise individuals into three groups (i) consistent low levels of housework at both baseline and follow-up, (ii) inconsistent high levels of housework at either baseline or follow-up and (iii) consistent high levels of housework at both baseline and follow-up. Baseline and follow-up frailty index >0.10, and all-cause, cancer and cardiovascular mortality from mean 9.5 years follow-up to March 31, 2021. Effect estimates were adjusted for socio-demographics, nutritional risk, lifestyle and other physical activities.


Overall, participants had mean [SD] age, 66.9 [7.8] years; 1916 [62.7%] were female. Participation in high levels of light and heavy housework consistently over time was associated with decreased odds of prefrailty/frailty at follow-up, [OR,0.61;95%CI,0.40–0.94] and [OR,0.56;95%CI,0.34–0.90] respectively, in the older group aged ≥65, compared to participants with consistent low levels of housework at baseline and follow-up. Sex-stratified analysis revealed an association between regular heavy housework participation and lower prevalence of prefrailty/frailty at follow-up in older men but not women [OR,0.31;95%CI,0.13–0.72]. Regular participation in high levels of light housework was associated with 41% lower risk of all-cause mortality [95%CI,0.36–0.96] in women but not in men, and 54% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality [95%CI,0.22–0.96].


Regular participation in above average levels of light housework is associated with decreased odds of prefrailty/frailty in older adults aged ≥65 years, and all-cause mortality in older women. Heavy housework participation is associated with decreased odds of prefrailty/frailty, especially in older men aged ≥65. Housework may be a meaningful occupation for older adults and should be encouraged for health and wellbeing.


NMRC grant

Ministry of Education Innovation Capability Fund under Grant (R-MOE-A404-F024)


Journal/Conference/Book title

BMC Geriatrics

Publication date



  • Published

Project ID

  • 7117 (R-MOE-A404-F024) Extending Health Span and Advancing Person Centric Care in Community

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