Background Further data on the causes of functional independence or disability after surgery are needed to explain the clinical decision-making process for older patients, their families, and policy-makers. There are a limited number of studies showing the relationship between kinesiophobia, functional status, pain and mobility in older adults after surgery. Aims The study aims to investigate relationships among kinesiophobia, pain, mobility, and functional status in older adults after surgery. Methods A comparative-descriptive and cross-sectional study. The research was conducted with 99 older adults in the general surgery clinic after surgery. A Visual Analogue Scale was used to evaluate pain levels, the Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination to evaluate mental function status, the Functional Independence Measure to assess functional independence in daily activities, the Rivermead Mobility Index to evaluate basic mobility in daily life, and the Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia to assess fear of mobility. Results Regression analysis revealed a significant negative correlation between social security and kinesiophobia, and also between functional level and type of anesthesia and mental status in older women (R-2 = - 0.185, p = 0.005; R-2 = - 0.167, p = 0.011 and p = 0.005, respectively). Discussion In the literature, there are no standardized procedures during the evaluation and rehabilitation of older adults after abdominal or thoracic surgery, etc. operations. This study will contribute to the current literature by attracting interest in this field and increasing the evaluations performed. Conclusions The study findings emphasize the importance of evaluating the functional, mobility, mental and kinesiophobic status of older adults after surgery in clinics, rehabilitation centers, or research.