The Effects of Residential Mobility on ADL and IADL Limitations among the Very Old Living in the Community

Pei Chun Chen, Janet M. Wilmoth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Objectives. We attempt to understand the influence of residential mobility on changes in objective activity of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL (IADL) limitations, while taking into account the subjective reason for the move. Methods. We examine noninstitutionalized adults aged 70 and older who are in the Longitudinal Study of Aging. We use bivariate regression to identify differences between nonmovers and various types of movers in 1988 and 1990 ADL and IADL limitations. Multivariate residualized regression models estimate the effect of residential mobility on the changes in limitations between 1984-1988 and 1988-1990. We give particular attention to the timing and reason for the move. Results. Controlling for demographic, social support, health status, and social integration characteristics, we find that residential mobility is associated with a short-term increase in ADL and IADL limitations. However, an additional analysis reveals that this short-term increase in limitations is only experienced by older adults who move for subjective health reasons. Compared with nonmovers, movers do not have significantly different changes in limitations over the long term. Discussion. Older adults and service providers need to be concerned with short-term increases in objective ADL and IADL limitations that accompany residential relocations, especially for those who move for subjective health reasons. However, from a long-term perspective, residential relocation may serve as a mechanism for accommodating age-related changes that threaten effective functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S164-S172
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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