, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 45-53
Date: 05 Nov 2004

Social and behavioural science perspectives on out-of-home mobility in later life: findings from the European project MOBILATE

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Abstract

Out-of-home mobility is a crucial prerequisite for autonomy and well-being. The European research project entitled Enhancing Mobility in Later Life: Personal Coping, Environmental Resources, and Technical Support (MOBILATE), funded within the European Commission’s Fifth Framework Programme, focused on older adults’ day-to-day mobility and the complex interplay between their personal resources and resources of their physical and social environments. A survey conducted in 2000 in urban and rural areas of five European countries (Finland, The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary and Italy) with various geographical, structural, and cultural conditions enabled us to compare patterns of older men’s and women’s actual mobility in different regional settings. The sample included n=3,950 randomly selected persons aged 55 years or older, stratified according to gender and age. Standardised questionnaires and a diary were used to assess the persons’ socio-structural, health-related, psychological and social resources as well as features of the community that may affect their options of realising outdoor oriented needs. The findings confirm that a person’s physical, economic, social and technical resources as well as the structural resources prevailing in the area in which he or she lives in are decisive preconditions of out-of-home mobility. Older persons living singly, women, persons with impaired health and low economic resources, and the rural elderly tend to be particularly at risk of losing their abilities to move about. We conclude that further support and stimulation for enhancing out-of-home mobility in later life must focus as much on transport policy measures as on appropriate social policy measures.