Updated Analyses of Trends in Use of Assistive Devices. Characteristics of Users and Nonusers of Devices


  • In 1999, about one in four chronically disabled community residents used only devices for all disabilities; nearly 60 percent used a combination of help and devices; and only about 15 percent reported using only help with all chronic disabilities.

  • Persons managing all chronic disabilities with only devices were less disabled than persons using both help and devices, particularly with respect to mobility and the frequency with which accommodation was needed; those using only help were far less disabled than those using devices.

  • Essentially none of the group using only devices reported unmet need for help with ADLs, compared with about one in five persons using both help and devices, and about one in ten persons receiving only help.

  • Persons managing all disabilities with devices were most likely to live alone, and to live in some type of senior housing, while persons using both devices and help were most likely to live in an explicit community residential care setting, such as assisted living.

  • Persons using only help were most likely to live with a spouse and far less likely than persons using devices to have any environmental accommodations, such as railings or raised toilet seats, or to consider them desirable.

  • Both groups using devices were older and relatively similar in gender distribution compared with persons using only help, who were more likely to be male.

  • Persons relying solely on devices had higher education and income than either group using help.

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