Strategies to Promote Mobility and Physical Activity in Older Men in Assisted Living

Older men in assisted living spend up to 90 percent of their time in sedentary behavior. This lack of physical activity makes them more vulnerable to mobility-disability. Currently, 40 percent of Canadian men over the age of 75 already present some degree of mobility-disability. Mobility limitations lead to frailty, falls, and placement into higher levels of care. To promote mobility and physical activity in older men living in assisted living facilities, a better understanding of how they move is needed. This in turn helps assisted living facilities better customize programs that enhance their participation, and thus, improve their mobility.

To address the gaps, I will develop and evaluate strategies that promote mobility and physical activity (in older men who live in assisted living). More specifically, I will address the following two objectives:

  1. Examine how real-life measures from wearable sensors of the quality of movement (e.g. time required for transferring, gait speed) and quantity of movement (e.g. activity levels) associate with frailty and risk for falls in older men. I will use wearable sensors to measure mobility patterns during standard clinical tests and as residents go about their daily activities (e.g. walking, transferring, standing, seated, and lying).
  2. Examine how mobility and activity levels are influenced by a customized physical activity program and real-time feedback monitored by wearable sensors. I will conduct a 12-week randomized control trial of a customized physical activity intervention for older men in assisted living. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the program currently offered by a facility (control group) or to a physical activity program that is custom-designed based on the results under objective 1 (intervention group).

This project will be conducted in partnership with Fraser Health and the BC Care Providers Association. I hypothesize that participants in the intervention group will show greater improvement in measures of mobility, falls efficacy, and fall incidence. I will work with partners to refine my research objectives and disseminate results at the end of the trial. Findings will be shared through presentations, workshops and publications. By sharing best practices for mobility and physical activity promotion, I ultimately want to impact the older men who are in assisted living.