Life-Space Mobility in the Elderly: Current Perspectives

Clin Interv Aging. 2020 Sep 15;15:1665-1674. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S196944. eCollection 2020.


Life-space mobility (LSM) is a concept for assessing patterns of functional mobility over time. LSM is gaining traction in the research of geriatric population health. Several instruments have been developed to measure LSM, such as the University of Alabama at Birmingham Life-Space Assessment (LSA) or the Nursing Home Life-Space Diameter instrument. There has been exponential growth in the use of instruments measuring LSM in studies of older adults since the concept was introduced in 1985. In response to the increased volume of publications with clinical applicability to those working in geriatric health or conducting population-based research in older adults, we conducted a narrative review: a) to provide a summary of the articles that have assessed validation of the University of Alabama at Birmingham LSA instrument, the most widely used instrument to assess LSM in older adults; and b) to provide a summary of the research articles that have examined LSM as independent or outcome variable. Studies for this review were obtained with an organized search format and were included if they were published in the past 20 years, written in English, published in peer-reviewed literature, and included LSM as an independent or outcome variable. Seventy-nine articles were identified: 36 that employed a cross-sectional design and 22 that employed a longitudinal/prospective design to examine LSM as outcome variable; 17 longitudinal/prospective design articles that examined LSM as primary independent variable; 3 review articles; and 1 systematic review. Areas of research included physical function, cognitive function, sensory impairment, mental health, falls, frailty, comorbidities, healthcare use, mortality, and social/environmental factors. These studies showed that LSM instruments can accurately predict morbidity, mortality, and healthcare use.

Keywords: LSA; LSM; life-space mobility; mobility; older adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Nursing Homes
  • Physical Functional Performance*