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01-08-2016 | Uitgave 8/2016 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 8/2016

Home but still engaged: participation in social activities among the homebound

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 8/2016
Sarah L. Szanton, Laken Roberts, Bruce Leff, Janiece L. Walker, Christopher L. Seplaki, Tacara Soones, Roland J. Thorpe Jr., Katherine A. Ornstein



Participation in social and community activities that require leaving one’s home is important to older adults; however, many older adults have difficulty or are unable to leave their dwellings, and little is known from national samples about issues related to remaining active outside the home or the barriers faced by these older adults.

Design and methods

We used the National Health and Aging Trends Study, a nationally representative study of older adults (n = 7197), to understand the following: (1) the importance that homebound and semi-homebound adults place on involvement in social or community activities, (2) their current level of involvement, and (3) reported barriers to participation.


Despite the heavy burden of functional limitations, depression, pain, and falls, homebound adults reported that activities outside the home were important to them ranging from 25.2 % (attend clubs) to 70.0 % (visit family). Similarly, semi-homebound older adults had a strong interest in such participation, including visiting friends and family (81.8 %), attending religious services (72.6 %), and going out for enjoyment (72.5 %). Many homebound adults reported health (42.9–64.1 % depending on the activity) and transportation (12.2–18.2 %) as barriers to participation. Semi-homebound adults also identified health (23.8–41.0 %) and transportation (6.5–10.2 %) as participation barriers.


This information can be useful in designing community programs that will foster meaningful social and community engagement for older adults, which may improve their quality of life.

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