The assessment of functional capacity is regarded as an important part of a comprehensive diagnostic work-up for dementia. However, there is a paucity of data regarding comparative functional performance among different ethnic/cultural groups. In this study, we compared Spanish- and English- speaking dementia patients and normal controls on a comprehensive functional assessment battery administered within the clinical setting. Despite equivalent levels of cognitive impairment, Spanish-speaking dementia patients evidenced more difficulties on certain functional tasks relative to their English-speaking counterparts. On the other hand, Spanish- and English- speaking controls did not differ with regards to their functional performance. Results suggest that the extent of deterioration in specific functional subskills may be related to the degree to which they have been overlearned and practiced. Further, they indicate the potential utility of direct functional assessment in both Spanish- and English-speaking populations.
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