John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
A new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and featured in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Gerontology, has identified demographic and health related characteristics that were related to mobility limitation. Investigators found that African-American women who reported major depressive symptoms had nearly three times the odds of mobility limitation than those without major depressive symptoms. In addition, African Americans who reported two or more medical conditions had higher odds of mobility impairment than those who reported one or fewer medical conditions. The new study has implications for members of the aging baby boomer population, in light of previous studies that have suggested that impaired mobility is a precursor to adverse events in older adults such as hospitalizations and nursing home admissions.
“The rapidly growing U.S. population 65 and older will bring with it greater numbers of minorities and people with mobility challenges,” said Roland Thorpe, PhD, MS, assistant scientist with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management. “Major depressive symptoms have not been previously identified as a factor of mobility difficulty, but these findings suggest that apathy may play a role in this relationship. It’s possible, participants could do the measured activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, but lacked the motivation to do so. Strategies to preserve mobility among African Americans must include efforts to reduce major depressive symptoms and proper health care to treat and control medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart trouble, arthritis and stroke.”