Factors Associated With Life Space Among Community-Living Rural Elders in Japan

Public Health Nurs. Jul-Aug 2006;23(4):324-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1446.2006.00568.x.


Objective: The study objective was to identify factors associated with life space to examine the service needs of the elderly. Cross-sectional study.

Sample: 2,409 community-living elderly in a rural town in Japan.

Measurements: Daily activity level was used as a proxy for life space. Respondents were asked about their daily activity, health status, and psychosocial factors in a self-administered questionnaire. Factors associated with life space were identified using general linear models. Relative associations of each factor with life space were tested using stepwise multiple regression procedure.

Results: Elderly in a smaller life space were significantly older, had more illnesses, worse activities of daily living (ADL), and poor self-rated health. Poor psychological well-being and fewer social relations were also associated with a smaller life space. Age and ADL difficulty accounted for 51.7% of life space variations. In addition, more elderly with ADL difficulty expressed unmet needs for transportation and socializing opportunities.

Conclusions: Life space was related not only to age or health status but also to environmental or psychosocial factors. Appropriate services for a vulnerable population may have a positive effect on elderly health. Moreover, elderly life space may be used as an indicator to identify people at risk in order to provide more effective community-based programs for the elderly.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Rural Health*
  • Social Environment*