Document Type

Critically Appraised Topic

Publication Date

2011

Clinical Scenario

Baby boomers, like everyone else, grow less active as they age with potential to have a decreased quality of life. Inactivity may be due to environmental or personal factors, contributing to a vicious cycle of inactivity and ill health. Within the normal aging process the skeletal and muscular system naturally decrease in strength and density. If people aren’t engaging their bodies in activities these systems may decline even faster.

Clinical Question

What is the impact of engaging in outdoor activities as an older adult compared to those who do not engage in outdoor activities on their quality of life?

Clinical Bottom Line

The research provided a variety of reasons why older adults may be disengaging from outdoor activities in a variety of questionnaires. A span of environmental factors and personal factors have been identified that influence older adults going outdoors that could lead to a decreased quality of life. Some of these factors include a fear of moving outdoors, poor streets, hills, poor lighting, functional impairments, the pleasure in activities, and mental health status. All of these factors have a potential negative relationship on the health of older adults. Occupational therapists are in a good position to advocate for safe neighbourhoods and to work with clients to find a way for them to participate in outdoor activities that clients enjoy by focusing on both personal and environmental factors and finding an appropriate fit for each client.

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