Measuring Life-Space Mobility in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Authors

  • Patricia S. Baker PhD,

    1. From the *Department of Sociology, Center for Aging, Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, and Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.
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  • Eric V. Bodner BS,

    1. From the *Department of Sociology, Center for Aging, Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, and Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.
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  • Richard M. Allman MD

    1. From the *Department of Sociology, Center for Aging, Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, and Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.
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  • This research was funded by the AARP/Andrus Foundation and Grant AG15062 from the National Institute on Aging.

Address correspondence to Patricia S. Baker, PhD, Center for Aging, CH19-201, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294. E-mail: pbaker@uab.edu

Abstract

Objectives: To evaluate the validity and reliability of a standardized approach for assessing life-space mobility (the University of Alabama at Birmingham Study of Aging Life-Space Assessment (LSA)) and its ability to detect changes in life-space over time in community-dwelling older adults.

Design: Prospective, observational cohort study.

Setting: Five counties (three rural and two urban) in central Alabama.

Participants: Community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries (N=306; 46% male, 43% African American) who completed in-home baseline interviews and 2-week and 6-month telephone follow-up interviews.

Measurements: The LSA assessed the range, independence, and frequency of movement over the 4 weeks preceding assessments. Correlations between the baseline LSA and measures of physical and mental health (physical performance, activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, a global measure of health (the short form-12 question survey), the Geriatric Depression Scale, and comorbidities) established validity. Follow-up LSA scores established short-term test-retest reliability and the ability of the LSA to detect change.

Results: For all LSA scoring methods, baseline and 2-week follow-up LSA correlations were greater than 0.86 (95% confidence interval=0.82–0.97). Highest correlations with measures of physical performance and function were noted for the LSA scoring method considering all attributes of mobility. The LSA showed both increases and decreases at 6 months.

Discussion: Life-space correlated with observed physical performance and self-reported function. It was stable over a 2-week period yet showed changes at 6 months.

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