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‘It makes your life worthwhile. It gives you a purpose in living’: mobility experiences among active older adults with low income

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 March 2018

Center for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Center for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Department of Gerontology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
Center for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada.
Center for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
Address for correspondence: Thea Franke, University of British Columbia, Center for Hip Health and Mobility, 2635 Laurel Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada E-mail:


The World Health Organization claims that mobility is vital to healthy ageing and is the best guarantee of older adults being able to cope and remain in their homes and communities. Mobility enables older adults to maintain their physical health, independence and participation in society. In general, mobility is examined objectively, from a quantitative perspective where mobility is measured as physical movement (e.g. physical activity) and/or travel behaviour (e.g. trips, modes and distances). The predominant focus on the functional aspects of mobility tends to overlook the subjective (e.g. perceptions, attitudes and motivations) and temporal dimensions of older adults’ mobility experiences. Using a constructivist grounded theory methodology, we conducted 24 in-depth interviews with six highly active community-dwelling older adults with low income, aged 65 or over, over a period of four years. Our analysis identified the following themes: maintaining a sense of self, being resourceful, openness to engagement, engaging in superficial contact, experiencing social capital, accessing transportation, leaving the immediate neighbourhood and facing affordability. Findings illustrate that intrapersonal factors, in addition to environmental (built, social and cultural) and temporal-level factors, play a crucial role in mobility. In the future, this gained knowledge can be incorporated into approaches to study the multiple interrelated factors and their interrelations that influence older adults’ mobility.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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