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Overview

We start with findings addressing the subjective meaning of mobility over time, followed by perceived changes in mobility and perceived reasons for change. We then report on trajectories of satisfaction with key areas of outdoor mobility as well as the course of satisfaction with life in general. Finally, we explore the interindividual variability over time based on case analyses selected to underscore some of the extremes inherent in the data. Results presented in the first step are completely qualitative, whereas quantitative and qualitative data analyses are interwoven in the remaining steps.

Subjective Meaning of Out-of-Home Mobility Over Time

The terms in which our participants in 2005 expressed what out-of-home mobility meant to them were nearly the same as those they had used 10 years earlier (see Table 15.2). As in our earlier studies (Mollenkopf & Flaschentrager, 2001; Mollenkopf et al., 2004a), we were able to categorize the elicited semantic material into seven categories: out-of-home mobility as a basic emotional experience; physical movement as a basic human need; mobility as movement and participation in the natural environment; mobility as a social need; mobility as an expression of personal autonomy and freedom; mobility as a source of stimulation and diversion; and mobility as a reflective expression of one’s life force. For most of the respondents, mobility included more than one aspect, and some of the various facets are tightly interwoven, reflecting the multidimensional meaning of mobility. Taken all together, it seems that out-of-home mobility has maintained more or less the same bandwidth and richness of meaning over the 10-year observational period.

Year

Category

The overarching meaning of mobility as a basic emotional experience, as essential for the quality of life or for life itself

1995

“Joy!”; “It’s everything, it’s life!”

2005

“A part of quality of life—yes, that’s a really considerable part of quality of life!” “Really, it’s getting out that makes up life, isn’t it? When you stay at home you can watch TV, but that’s not life, that’s dying slowly.”

Physical movement as a basic human need

1995

“A person has to move! I want to move and feel good when I do.”

2005

“Moving about outdoors is very important for me. I use every opportunity to get out into the open air.”

Mobility as movement and participation in the natural environment

1995

“I have to get out, have to know what is going on in nature!”

2005

“That’s worth a lot....Of course, getting out, open air, movement, and other environments and other people and nature—all this has to be worth a lot to everybody.” Moving around as a social need, as a desire for social integration and participation

1995

“Still being able to take part in social life.” “So that I don’t get lonely.”

2005

“Getting out of one’s home—this means meeting friends and acquaintances, socializing, participating in culture, broadening one’s horizons, and a lot more.”

The possibility to move about as an expression of personal autonomy and freedom

1995

“Being able to go out any time I want!” “Not being locked in!”

2005

“A wonderful step to freedom....It has always been like this, the desire to go out into the open and the ability to do so—that’s simply beautiful. Being able to do so is important, very important.”

Mobility as a source of stimulation and diversion

1995

“Sometimes seeing something other than the four walls you live in!”; “So that I don’t go crazy up here!”

2005

“This means a great deal to me. Freedom of movement - and you have to see what’s new, the celebrations, meet other people and enjoy things a bit - that’s what you need in old age.”

The ability to move about as a reflective expression of one’s remaining life force—A typical

topic of old age

1995

“The last bit of freedom!” “Proof that I’m still a human being like anyone else.”

2005

“This I can say: I’m still well—I am happy that I am still able to go out and move about on my own.”

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