Everyday outdoor mobility in old age: Focus group interviews with active senior citizens

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Abstract

Background:

Senior citizens are over-represented in injury statistics, and fall-related injuries are globally recognized as a major threat to their health and wellbeing. Outdoor falls are likely to occur among those who are active and healthy when walking or cycling. The objective of this study was to explore active senior citizens' experiences and perceptions of how their safety could be increased and their risk reduced in outdoor environments.

Methods:

Six focus-group interviews with 31 healthy and active senior citizens were conducted in northern Sweden. Data were analyzed via a qualitative content analysis method.

Results:

Participants adjusted to age-related changes in order to stay safe during outdoor mobility. Outdoor activities were facilitated by having confidence of safety within the environment, and by using safety devices. Fear of, for example, falling and dangerous environments, such as uneven surfaces, as well as the shortcomings of safety devices, were constraining elements for outdoor activity.

Conclusions:

It is of great importance to raise awareness of healthy aging and to illuminate directions for environmental changes. Asking old people about their experiences allows the researcher to identify with their perspective, and may give a more comprehensive understanding of the most appropriate recommendations for health and safety improvements.

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