Pushing the boundaries: intervention effects on indoor life-space utilization in nursing home residents

  • C. Jansen
  • M. Diegelmann
  • O. Schilling
  • H. Wahl
  • K. Hauer


Background: Life-space has been associated with important psychosocial and physical outcomes related to quality of life in older people. In nursing home residents, these associations persist despite life-space being highly determined by institutional factors in this setting. We investigated whether participating in a 12-week, multi-component, individually tailored physical activity intervention led to an enhancement of life-space utilisation. Methods: 143 permanent residents (53–100 years, M=83.1 years; 70% female) of two nursing homes in Germany either participated in intervention and assessment (intervention group; N=78) or assessment only (control group; N=65). They were measured at baseline, post-intervention, and at 3-month follow-up. Indoor life-space was assessed via a wireless sensor network spanning both facilities; three life-space parameters were derived from raw data. To test the intervention effect, a generalized linear mixed model approach was applied. Findings: At posttest, the intervention group had a significantly higher overall life-space (p=.002), spent more time away from their private room (p=.015), and travelled further away from their private room (p=.006) as compared to controls. At follow-up, this effect was partially sustained. Discussion: In nursing home residents, an individually tailored physical activity program can be effective for enhancing life-space utilisation within the facility. Expanding residents’ life-space may provide new opportunities for pleasant and emotionally meaningful encounters and include higher potential for establishing new social contacts within the facility. However, further research is needed to confirm this impact of life-space utilisation on social participation.