Recovery from self-reported walking limitation may be a turning point in an individual's health trajectory and may lead to better physical and mental health in the future. This research examines whether recovery from walking limitation is associated with onset of mobility disability, activities of daily living (ADLs) disability, or mortality among a national sample of older Americans.
DATA AND METHODS:
Using Waves 4 through 11 (1998-2012) of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), discrete-time event history models (N = 12,579 person-intervals) with multiple competing events were estimated using multinomial logistic regression. The risk group was defined as respondents with walking limitation, but free of disability. A lagged measure of recovery was created using 2 adjacent waves, and disability and mortality outcomes were assessed in the subsequent wave (i.e., 2 years later).
Recovery from walking limitation (i.e., difficulty walking one or several blocks) was associated with lower odds of mobility disability (i.e., difficulty walking across the room) onset, ADL with mobility disability onset, ADL without mobility disability onset, and mortality. Recovery from walking limitation was not only predictive of mobility-related outcomes, but also nonmobility-related ADLs and mortality-suggesting that the predictive capacity of recovery extends to multiple physical health outcomes.
This research suggests that self-reported recovery from walking limitation may be a turning point in the disabling process and signals a meaningful change in an older adult's functional health trajectory.
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