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Perceived Changes in Out-of-Home Mobility Over Time and Perceived Reasons for Such Change

Comparing the older adults’ subjectively perceived changes in their out-of-home mobility over the 10-year interval gives a clear picture of continuity and change in this domain: About two thirds of the study’s participants said in both follow-up assessments (2000 and 2005) that their mobility had not changed (Table 15.3). About one third (27 % in 2000 and 34 % in 2005) reported a decline each time.

Change

Year

2000

2005

Total sample (N = 82)

n

%

n

%

Better

3

3.7

0

0.0

Worse

22

26.8

28

34.2

The same

57

69.5

54

65.8

Age group (in years)

65-74

75 and older

65-74

75 and older

(n = 41)

(n = 41)

(n = 41)

(n = 41)

n %

n%

n%

n%

Better

3 7.3

0 0.0

0 0.0

0 0.0

Worse

10 24.4

12 29.3

8 19.5

20 48.8

The same

28 68.3

29 70.7

33 80.5

21 51.2

Gender

Female

Male

Female

Male

(n = 39)

(n = 43)

(n = 39)

(n = 43)

n%

n%

n%

n%

Better

1 2.6

2 4.6

0 0.0

0 0.0

Worse

11 28.2

11 25.6

14 35.9

14 32.6

The same

27 69.2

30 69.8

25 64.1

29 67.4

Design by authors

Whereas 4 % of the participants still stated an improvement in mobility in 2000, no one in 2005 reported an improvement. When age is applied as the distinguishing factor, it becomes evident that mobility worsens mainly after the 75th year of life. Almost 30 % of the older age group stated a decline in 2000 compared to just 24.4 % of the younger age group. Five years later, the proportions differed even more starkly (50 % and 20 %, respectively). Men and women showed only minor differences in this regard.

The perceived reasons for change in mobility can be attributed to both personal and environmental circumstances and are centered mostly on the theme of loss and deterioration. Declining health, in particular, but also financial constraints; the necessity of caring for a family member; difficulties with using a bicycle, car, or public transport and with coping with traffic conditions in general; and barriers in the built environment tend to result in mobility restrictions. The following quotations illustrate how older people experience their declining mobility and what impacts it has on their daily life.

I can no longer move about in the open countryside the way I used to. Five years ago I still went fishing, but I can’t any more. If I go to the river, I risk being alone. And if I were to pass out, maybe I wouldn’t fall into the water, but I might lay there a long time. (Mr. Nolte,

88 years old)

Despite the prosthesis I feel pain, and this restricts my walking. And when I come home— not in winter, but in the spring and summer—I have to undress, and my wife gives me a shower. (Mr. Walter, 86 years old)

I don’t have a car anymore and have to go everywhere on foot. There are only public modes of transport like the tram. But I have no further options. I would have to ask my son to take me somewhere. (Mr. Ober, 77 years old)

Well, as I said, I can no longer use my bike and I need some help for heavy household tasks more often nowadays. (Mrs. Diffler, 68 years old)

Of course, my whole situation has changed because of this task [caring for her husband, who suffers from dementia]. I myself, if I were independent, if I did not have to care for someone, I could walk, I could travel, and I could do anything I want. (Mrs. Hansen, 75 years old)

 
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