Reducing moderate to severe limitations in the older adult


As we age, the body begins to slow down, and functional limitations develop. Functional limitations are a decrease in the ability to carry out everyday activities.

Luckily, there are certain things we can do to reduce these moderate and severe limitations. The following information provides knowledge to initiate necessary lifestyle changes and participate in treatment regimens.


Three factors affect optimal functionality.

Self-Related Factors

Mental Aspects

This aspect is your psychological well-being and life satisfaction. Factors that influence this are:


  • Being valued and important
  • Extroverted personality
  • Absence of worry


  • Emotional difficulties
  • Higher levels of neuroticism
  • Anxious experiences

Capability Aspects

This aspect is based on multiple factors that contribute to happiness.

  • How well you handle difficult situations and use problem-focused coping
  • Life accomplishments and individual resources
  • Religion and spirituality

Adjustment Aspects

How often are you happy and why
  • ability to adjust and keep a positive attitude
  • enjoying the small things

Body-Related Factors

Activity Aspect

Being physically active:

  • higher life satisfaction
  • physical condition improves mental health

Health Aspect

Comorbidity (illness in addition to the normal aging process) negatively affect functionality. Specifically:

  • Gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Fractures
  • Exhaustion
  • Medications

Autonomy Aspects

Independence in everyday life.

  • Maintains dignity

External Factors

Social Aspects

A well determined social network increases life satisfaction. Social network increases by participating in social activities such as:

  • Meeting with friends
  • Visiting cultural events
  • Participating in group activities such as gardening

Demographic Aspects

  • Older men have greater satisfaction than older women
  • Marital status (widowed, partner, or married)
  • Higher educational level
  • Stable economic status

Environmental Aspects

  • Living in a home-like environment or even your original house rather than nursing home.
  • Supportive neighborhood


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This information will help the older adult live to their fullest ability longer.

Overcoming barriers

Older adults face discrimination based on their age. A lot of individual have the misconception that older adults are incapable of taking care of themselves, therefore, step in and help the older adult. In reality, this help actually harms the older adults ability function. If the adult participates in the stated behaviors above they will be able to function longer.

Community resources

One of the most beneficial community resource would be a rec center or YMCA. They offer activities and classes that would increase the social aspect of the older adult and depending on the activity also the physical aspect.


This topic is a part of the Healthy People 2020 objectives. It is in the prevention section of older adults and is OA-5: Reduce the proportion of older adults who have moderate to severe functional limitations.

Paterson, D. H., & Warburton, D. E. (2010). Physical activity and functional limitations in older adults: A systematic review related to Canada’s physical activity guidelines. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 7(1), 38. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-38

Schoultz, I., Algilani, S., Östlund-Lagerström, L., Kihlgren, A., Brummer, R., & Blomberg, K. (2014). Exploring the concept of optimal functionality in old age. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare. doi:10.2147/jmdh.s55178