Performance Improvement 2010. Meet Challenges of Disabling Conditions


Researchers on disability explored use of disability equipment and how disability and other characteristics differ for equipment users and nonusers.  Between 1984 and 1999, the proportion of chronically disabled community residents using equipment, with or without help, for all activities for which equipment use could be measured doubled to nearly 30%.  Almost 1 million more elders were using equipment with at least one activity in 1999 than in 1984.  Nearly one-quarter of disabled elders managed all chronic disabilities with only equipment in 1999, and almost two-thirds used equipment independently for at least one disability.  Simple devices for mobility, bathing, and toileting--walkers, canes and crutches, tub or shower seats, and raised toilet seats--continued to be most common and saw the largest increases, although wheelchairs and scooters also nearly doubled in prevalence.  Persons managing all chronic disabilities with only equipment were significantly less disabled than persons using both help and equipment on all measures, particularly with respect to mobility and the frequency with which accommodation was needed.  Persons using only help were most likely to live with a spouse and far less likely than persons using equipment, with or without help, to have any environmental accommodations, such as railings or raised toilet seats, or to consider them desirable.  Hours of care received in the last week rose with disability level and generally were higher for the more disabled group using both help and equipment than for the group using only help. (9307

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