Older Adults’ Perceptions of Mobility: A Metasynthesis of Qualitative Studies

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Purpose of the Study:

Optimal mobility is an important element of healthy aging. Yet, older adults’ perceptions of mobility and mobility preservation are not well understood. The purposes of our study were to (a) identify studies that report older adults’ perceptions of mobility, (b) conduct a standardized methodological quality assessment, and (c) conduct a metasynthesis of the identified studies.

Design and Methods:

We included studies with community-dwelling adults aged ≥65 years, focused on perceptions of mobility pertaining to everyday functioning, used qualitative methods, and were cited in PubMed, Embase, CINAHLPlus, or Geobase databases. Study quality was appraised using the McMaster University Tool.


Out of 748 studies identified, 12 met inclusion criteria. Overall quality of the studies was variable. Metasynthesis produced 3 overarching themes: (a) mobility is part of sense of self and feeling whole, (b) assisted mobility is fundamental to living, and (c) adaptability is key to moving forward.


Older adults’ perceptions of mobility can inform interventions that would involve actively planning for future mobility needs and enhance the acceptance of the changes, both to the older adult and the perceived response to changes by those around them.

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