There are growing numbers of adults aging with long-term mobility disabilities. Very little is known about the challenges this population experiences with everyday activities, and such challenges are likely to be greater and more complex than those of older adults who experience mobility declines later in life.
The current manuscript presents in-depth insights on the specific activity challenges experienced by older adults with long-term mobility disabilities, and the response strategies they employ to overcome those challenges.
In-depth, structured interviews designed to assess challenges and response strategies for a range of daily activities were conducted with sixty older adult participants (ages 60–79) who self-identified as having a mobility disability for a minimum of 10 years. A coding scheme was developed to classify emerging themes. We identify the most common challenges and responses reported across all 6 broad categories as well as for a single activity category as an exemplar of an in-depth activity analysis.
A needs taxonomy revealed challenges and response themes in relation to the most difficult activities identified by the participants. Frequently reported challenges included physical limitations and accessibility challenges. Common response strategies (e.g., utilizing tools or technologies, obtaining assistance from others, or modifying the approach to the task) were successfully mapped onto the Selection, Optimization, and Compensation model.
Findings reveal the unique challenges individuals face when engaging in everyday activities, and the potential of affordable and effective supports to promote aging-in-place, functional independence, and community engagement for adults aging with long-term mobility disability.