Purpose of the study: "Life-space" is the spatial area through which a person experiences and interacts with the world. Life-space constriction, the shrinking of the spatial area that a person traverses, is associated with negative health outcomes in later life. Racial and gender disparities in mobility as indicated by life-space constriction are thought to contribute to broader disparities in health and functioning among older adults.
Design and Methods: Data come from the 5-year follow-up of the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) Study (N = 2,765; mean age = 73.6; 75.8% women; 73.7% White). Life-space constriction was defined as "not traveling beyond one's town." A series of logistic regression and Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate risk for incident life-space constriction by race and gender.
Results: Blacks and women had greater likelihood of life-space constriction at baseline. Women were more likely to experience incident life-space constriction at follow-up relative to men (Hazard ratio [HR]: 1.89, 95% Confidence interval [CI]: 1.26-2.83). Blacks were associated with lower risk of life-space constriction over time (HR: 0.67, 95% CI: 0.45-0.99) relative to Whites.
Implications: Disparities in life-space constriction by gender and race exist in later life. Understanding the processes underlying these mobility restrictions is important to developing intervention programs to enhance health and functioning for older adults.