Older Adult Lifespace Varies by Driving Status and Residential Population Density

Christine B. Phillips, Sara A. Freed, Lesley A. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Individual- and environmental-level factors may explain differential trajectories in lifespace mobility in older adults. The current study tested whether driving status was associated with lifespace, whether lifespace change varied by driving status, and whether residential context moderated the relationship between driving status and lifespace. Participants were 2,792 older adults aged 65 to 94 (mean = 73.6 + 5.9) enrolled in the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly Study. Lifespace and driving status were assessed at baseline and first, second, third, and fifth annual follow-up visits. Residential population density was measured as the population density for participants’ enrollment site counties. Two sites were categorized as low density (<600 per square mile) and four sites were categorized as high density (>1,200 per square mile). Multilevel longitudinal models tested relationships between driving status, residential population density, and lifespace over five years. After controlling for potential confounders, results indicated that non-drivers had smaller mean lifespace than drivers across five years. Rates of lifespace decline did not differ between drivers and non-drivers. Non-drivers at baseline residing in low population density areas had smaller lifespace than non-drivers in high population density areas and all drivers regardless of population density. The findings suggest that residential context plays a role in older adults’ travel behaviors and choices. Further research is needed to understand what residential characteristics support or hinder lifespace maintenance for older adult non-drivers, such as availability and usability of transportation and walkability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-595
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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