Domain-specific self-perceptions of aging are associated with different gait patterns in older adults: a cross-sectional latent profile analysis.

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Previous studies have pointed to the impact of self-perceptions of aging (SPA) on self-reported physical function in later life. However, less is known about associations of SPA with objectively measured physical function, especially gait. Research that examined other psychological variables and objectively measured gait has focused on single gait parameters such as gait speed, which seems to fall short for the complexity of this movement. Some approaches have proposed ways to identify gait patterns in specific patient groups, but not in community samples. Our goal was (a) to identify gait patterns based on a combination of important gait parameters in a community sample, and (b) to investigate differential associations of gain- and loss-related SPA with these gait patterns.The study used an electronic walkway to assess gait parameters of 150 community dwelling adults aged 71-93 years (61.0% women) at their usual and maximum gait speed. SPA were assessed with a questionnaire. We used latent profile analysis (LPA) to identify groups exhibiting distinct gait patterns and binary logistic regression to investigate associations of SPA with these groups, controlling for personality traits, number of illnesses, age, gender, and education. To compare overall function between groups, a t-test for scores in the Short Physical Performance Battery was used.LPA revealed two distinct groups in both gait speed conditions. The fit group exhibited a stable, well-coordinated and faster gait pattern, while the functionally limited group’s gait pattern was less stable, less coordinated and slower. The odds of belonging to the functionally limited group were increased by loss-related SPA at usual gait speed, while the odds of belonging to the fit group were increased by gain-related SPA at individual maximum speed.The findings (a) suggest LPA as a useful approach to investigate complex gait patterns considering several gait parameters simultaneously, and (b) provide first evidence for differential associations of gain- and loss-related SPA with gait patterns at usual and maximum gait speed. Intervention studies addressing gait in older adults should additionally address gain-related views on aging.

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Authors: Anne Blawert, Sebastian Krumpoch, Ellen Freiberger, Susanne Wurm