Linking Mastery Across the Life Course to Mobility Device Use in Later Life

Objectives: Mastery in older ages is shaped by earlier-life experiences. Prior research has demonstrated that mastery is associated with health-promoting behaviors; however, little research has examined whether mastery histories influence health behaviors such as mobility device use in later life. Method: Using 25 years of data from the Americans' Changing Lives Survey (N = 1,427), this research explores whether different trajectories of life course mastery influence the odds that an older adult will use a mobility device when experiencing functional impairment. We used growth mixture models with a distal outcome and examined the relationship between functional limitations and mobility device use as it varies across latent classes of life course mastery, controlling for social and health factors. Results: The odds of device use in the face of functional limitations were significantly higher among those with a history of high life course mastery, relative to those with low life course mastery, all things being equal. Discussion: Our findings suggest that mastery over the life course is a source of psychological human capital that is associated with health-promoting behaviors in later life among those with functional limitations.