Changes in Community Mobility in Older Men and Women. A 13-Year Prospective Study
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Community mobility, defined as “moving [ones] self in the community and using public or private transportation”, has a unique ability to promote older peoples’ wellbeing by enabling independence and access to activity arenas for interaction with others. Early predictors of decreased community mobility among older men and women are useful in developing health promoting strategies. However, long-term prediction is rare, especially when it comes to including both public and private transportation. The present study describes factors associated with community mobility and decreased community mobility over time among older men and women. In total, 119 men and 147 women responded to a questionnaire in 1994 and 2007. Respondents were between 82 and 96 years old at follow-up. After 13 years, 40% of men and 43% of women had decreased community mobility, but 47% of men and 45% of women still experienced some independent community mobility. Cross-sectional independent community mobility among men was associated with higher ratings of subjective health, reporting no depression and more involvement in sport activities. Among women, cross-sectional independent community mobility was associated with better subjective health and doing more instrumental activities of daily living outside the home. Lower subjective health predicted decreased community mobility for both men and women, whereas self-reported health conditions did not. Consequently, general policies and individual interventions aiming to improve community mobility should consider older persons’ subjective health.
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