Date of Conferral

2018

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Rhonda Bohs

Abstract

Thirty percent of older adults fall every year with devastating physical and economic consequences. Physical activity is the primary recommendation for fall prevention, but less than 30% of older adults meet the physical activity guidelines of the various professional organizations. Recent work demonstrated that psychological factors were more specific in identifying fall risk but work on psychological issues related to physical activity in the older adult is limited. This study explored motivation and limits to being physically active in 76 adults with a mean age of 88 living in the assisted living setting, using concurrent mixed method research. The theoretical foundation was a 3-pronged method using self-determination, self-efficacy, and resilience theories to explore such issues as autonomy, vicarious experience, and positivism. Quantitative data were used to examine the individual influences of various psychological factors on physical activity participation through multi regression analysis. No significant relationships were found, although it emerged that fear of falling was a greater influence in limiting physical activity than balance confidence or fall efficacy. Qualitative open-ended questions further explored the research question with triangulation through interviews with activity staff. Four primary themes emerged covering function, emotions, influences, and â??want,â?? demonstrating a strong desire for healthy living and independence. Results of this study can assist the development of suitable programs for this population. Implications for positive social change include the potential to increase physical activity and possibly decrease the number of devastating falls in the older adult population.

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