Measuring life-space mobility in community-dwelling older adults

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2003 Nov;51(11):1610-4. doi: 10.1046/j.1532-5415.2003.51512.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Algorithms
  • Computer Graphics
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Locomotion*
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results