Updated Analyses of Trends in Use of Assistive Devices. Trends in Device Use


  • Between 1984 and 1999, the proportion of chronically disabled community residents using assistive devices, with or without help, for all activities doubled to nearly 30 percent; the proportion relying solely on help fell. Almost 1 million more elders were using devices with at least one activity in 1999 than in 1984.

  • Most of the increase in device use was in independent device use. Nearly one-quarter of disabled elders managed all chronic disabilities with only devices in 1999, and almost two-thirds used devices independently for at least one activity.

  • Bathing was the only activity with a strong upward trend in independent use of devices and a similarly strong downward trend in sole use of help, but significant increases in independent use of devices occurred for all four mobility-related ADLs--bathing, getting around inside, transferring, and toileting--and for getting around outside.

  • Simple devices for mobility, bathing, and toileting--walkers, canes and crutches, tub or shower seats, and raised toilet seats--continued to be the most common devices and saw the largest increases, although wheelchairs and scooters also nearly doubled in prevalence.

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