Changes in life-space mobility and quality of life among community-dwelling older people: a 2-year follow-up study

Merja Rantakokko, Erja Portegijs, Anne Viljanen, Susanne Iwarsson, Markku Kauppinen, Taina Rantanen
Quality of Life Research 2016, 25 (5): 1189-97

PURPOSE: Life-space mobility refers to the spatial area in which a person moves in daily life, taking into account distance, frequency and assistance needed. The aim was to examine how changes in life-space mobility are associated with changes in quality of life (QOL) over a 2-year period.

METHODS: Community-dwelling people aged 75-90 years (n = 848) were interviewed face-to-face in their homes and followed up annually for 2 years. QOL was assessed with the short version of the World Health Organization QOL assessment (range 0-130, higher scores indicate better QOL). Life-space mobility was assessed with the Life-Space Assessment (range 0-120, higher scores indicate better life-space mobility). Lower extremity performance was objectively measured with the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB). Cognitive impairment was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination. Chronic conditions and years of education were self-reported. Data were analyzed with generalized estimation equation models.

RESULTS: The mean life-space score at baseline was 63.9 ± SD 20.6 and mean QOL score 100.3 ± 11.8. Over the follow-up, the QOL score decreased to 95.0 ± 13.8 across the total study sample. The decrease in QOL score was somewhat higher among those whose life-space mobility score declined > 10 points during the follow-up compared to those whose life-space remained stable or improved, even after adjustment for age, gender, number of chronic conditions, cognitive impairment, SPPB and education.

CONCLUSIONS: Decline in life-space mobility is associated with decline in QOL. The results highlight the importance of ensuring continuous possibilities for out-of-home mobility in maintaining QOL among older people.

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