Overview / Purpose

Topic Area:

The focus of the UAB Center for Research on Applied Gerontology is to develop and evaluate interventions which will allow older individuals to remain independent and to experience a high quality of life. Specifically, our program seeks to improve those visual, attentional and cognitive functions which decline at varying rates among older adults, and which are particularly relevant to maintaining functional abilities such as mobility and driving skills.

Need for Research:

Many older adults experience difficulty with mobility at advanced ages due to the deterioration of physical, sensory, and cognitive functions. Mobility, as we address it, can be evaluated: through the performance of specific maneuvers such as walking or climbing stairs; by assessing an individual's ability to carry out instrumental activities of daily living such as driving a vehicle; through negative outcomes such as falls, motor vehicle crashes, and/or injuries resulting from those events; or, relative to the extent of mobility (e.g., life space). In particular, recent studies have demonstrated that visual attentional problems are good predictors of increased crash involvement in older adults. These crashes, when they occur, are much more likely to result in injury and long-term disability or death than those involving younger individuals, particularly in the area of driving. The significance of this research field is underscored by the fact that continued mobility fosters independence, and the ultimate goal of the Roybal Centers is to benefit the lives of older people by improving quality of life, enhancing productivity, and minimizing the need for care. Furthermore, decreased mobility leads to both social and economic dependence on family members and society.

Center Theme:

The research of the Center is designed to evaluate the ways in which improved visual, attentional and cognitive functions enhance everyday activities, focusing on the area of mobility. The target population consists of community-dwelling older persons who have experienced some decline in these functions and for whom the interventions would likely improve mobility levels in daily life.


University of Alabama at Birmingham - Center for Research on Applied Gerontology
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