New Research: Social Relationships, Gender, and Recovery From Mobility Limitation Among Older Americans

Latham, K., Clarke, P. J. & Pavela, G. (2015). Social relationships, gender and, recovery from mobility limitation among older Americans. Advanced access The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Social Sciences.

New coauthored research, forthcoming in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Social Sciences, highlights the role of social relationships for recovery from mobility limitation (i.e., difficulty walking) among older Americans. Additionally, this research explores whether the influence of social relationships on recovery varies by gender.

Highlights from this research include:

  • Providing non-paid help to friends and family increased the odds of recovering from mobility limitation for both older men and women.
  • Having relatives living nearby decreased the odds of complete recovery for older men and women.
  • Partnered men were more likely to experience recovery relative to partnered women.
  • Women who said that they did not visit friends in their neighborhood were the least likely to experience partial recovery compared with both men and women who visited friends and men who did not visit friends in the neighborhood.

This research underscores the potential for social relationships to facilitate recovery from mobility limitation. Interventions aimed at encouraging older adults with mobility limitation to visit neighborhoods and provide help to peers may improve functional health outcomes.  Additionally, this research speaks to possible vulnerabilities among older women with limited social ties.

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WalletHub’s 2014’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities–“Ask the Experts” Response

WalletHub has created a list of the best and worst cities for people with disabilities. They reached out to me and other researchers to weigh in on financial and non-financial advice for residents with disabilities.

2014′s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities

My responses can be found at the bottom of the  webpage or by clicking “Ask the Experts” link.  I focused my answers on the advantages of walkable communities because the policies that would directly benefit residents with disabilities would benefit all members of the community. Safe and walkable environments help promote the health and wellbeing of whole communities.


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New Co-authored Research: ‘Til sickness do us part: How illness affects the risk of divorce

Co-author, Amelia Karraker (University of Michigan), recently presented our preliminary findings regarding illness and risk of divorce at the Population Association of America (PAA) 2014 Annual Meeting. Our research suggests that, among older married couples, there is an elevated risk of divorce following wives’ onset of a serious illness (i.e., heart disease, cancer, stroke, or lung disease). The University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research provides a nice summary of our preliminary findings in a news release (written by Diane Swanbrow), ‘Til sickness do us part: How illness affects the risk of divorce.

Our research was recently featured in multiple news outlets including The Huffington Post, Today, TIMEUS News, Science World Report, and Medical Daily.


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New Publication in The Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences

Latham, K. (2014). Racial and educational disparities in mobility limitation among older women: What is the role of modifiable risk factors? The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Social Science. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu028

My recent publication examines whether modifiable risk factors such as smoking status, participation in vigorous physical activity, or body mass index mediates or moderates racial and educational disparities in mobility limitation (i.e., difficulty walking or climbing stairs) among older women. Body mass index was a significant partial mediator for race and mobility limitation–suggesting that higher levels of body mass index among older Black women,  relative to older White women, contributes to excess mobility impairment. Another interesting finding highlights racial variation in the effect of modifiable risk factors on mobility limitation; the benefit of vigorous physical activity for preventing mobility limitation varied by race. Physical activity among older Black women was not as advantageous for preventing mobility limitation compared with older White women.

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Thinking about Disability over the Life Course: Aging with Disability Publications

Two recent publications highlight potential disparities among individuals with disabilities in childhood and young adulthood. Those aging with disability may experience greater socioeconomic disadvantage, poorer self-rated health, and higher levels of depressive symptoms in later life. (Clarke & Latham, 2014; Latham, 2014).  Individuals with early-onset of disability often have increased barriers to socioeconomic achievement, which may lead to fewer opportunities to manage the underlying condition(s). These publications underscore the importance of viewing disability with a life course lens.

Clarke, P. J. & Latham, K. (2014). Life course health and social economic profiles of Americans aging with disability. Disability and Health Journal, 7, 1, S15-S23.

Latham, K. (2014). The “long arm” of childhood health: Linking childhood disability to late midlife mental health. Research on Aging. Advance online publication.

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New Transitions: Welcome to Indy!

Dr. Kenzie Latham recently joined the Department of Sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Fall 2013 is in full swing at IUPUI, and  Dr. Latham is excited to be back in the classroom and to be an IUPUI Jag!

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