The National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is featuring early stage investigators. My post on the OBSSR Connector Blog highlights the benefits of social relationships including being partnered or staying connected with neighbors for recovery from severe mobility limitation (i.e., difficulty walking one block or shorter distances). One of the more interesting findings underscores the health-promoting potential of giving unpaid help to friends and family. Older adults who reported helping their friends and family were more likely to recover from severe mobility limitation, controlling for a multitude of social and health risk factors.
This research suggests that older adults with disability may be an untapped resource for communities–encouraging older adults to provide aid to those in need may prove to be mutually beneficial. To see this idea in action, watch “What happens when a nursing home and a day care center share a roof?” from PBS Newshour.
Filed under Media, Research
Latham, K. & Williams, M. M. (2015). “Does neighborhood disorder predict recovery from mobility limitation? Findings from the Health and Retirement Study.” Advance access at Journal of Aging and Health.
Recent research highlights the importance of neighborhood disorder for recovery from mobility limitation (i.e., difficulty walking and climbing stairs). Older adults who reported higher levels of neighborhood disorder (i.e., graffiti/vandalism, vacant/deserted homes, litter, and crime) were less likely to recover from mobility limitation. However, physical activity and psychosocial factors were significant mediators, which suggests neighborhood disorder influences recovery from physical impairment via psychosocial processes and barriers to physical activity.
Reducing neighborhood disorder may enhance older residents’ psychosocial well-being and improve participation in physical activity, thus increasing recovery from mobility limitation and preventing subsequent disability.
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.
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.