The Impact of Veteran Status on Life-Space Mobility among Older Black and White Men in the Deep South

Gina M McCaskill, Patricia Sawyer, Kathryn L Burgio, Richard Kennedy, Courtney P Williams, Olivio J Clay, Cynthia J Brown, Richard M Allman
Ethnicity & Disease 2015 August 7, 25 (3): 255-62

OBJECTIVE: To examine life-space mobility over 8.5 years among older Black and White male veterans and non-veterans in the Deep South.

DESIGN: A prospective longitudinal study of community-dwelling Black and White male adults aged >65 years (N=501; mean age=74.9; 50% Black and 50% White) enrolled in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Study of Aging. Data from baseline in-home assessments with follow-up telephone assessments of life-space mobility completed every 6 months were used in linear mixed-effects modeling analyses to examine life-space mobility trajectories.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Life-space mobility.

RESULTS: In comparison to veterans, non-veterans were more likely to be Black, single, and live in rural areas. They also reported lower income and education. Veterans had higher baseline life-space (73.7 vs 64.9 for non-veterans; P<.001). Race-veteran subgroup analyses revealed significant differences in demographics, comorbidity, cognition, and physical function. Relative to Black veterans, there were significantly greater declines in life-space trajectories for White non-veterans (P=.009), but not for White veterans (P=.807) nor Black non-veterans (P=.633). Mortality at 8.5 years was 43.5% for veterans and 49.5% for non-veterans (P=.190) with no significant differences by race-veteran status.

CONCLUSIONS: Veterans had significantly higher baseline life-space mobility. There were significantly greater declines in life-space trajectories for White non-veterans in comparison to other race-veteran subgroups. Black veterans and non-veterans did not have significantly different trajectories.

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