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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Managing activity difficulties at home: a survey of Medicare beneficiaries


Dudgeon BJ, Hoffman JM, Ciol MA, Shumway-Cook A, Yorkston KM, Chan L



Publication Info:

Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 89(7):1256-61


OBJECTIVE: To describe assistance from helpers and use of assistive technology and environmental modification by community-dwelling people with difficulties in activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs).
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using the 2004 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey.
SETTING: Community.
PARTICIPANTS: Nationally representative sample of 14,500 Medicare beneficiaries (mean age, 71.5 y; 55% female; 49% currently married; 68% living with others; 84% white).
INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported difficulty with ADLs and IADLs; uses of help, assistive technology, and/or environmental modification.
RESULTS: Difficulties were reported most frequently for heavy housework, walking, and shopping; money management, shopping, and light housework were reported as activities most often needing a helper. Walking, bathing, and toileting were activities most often needing uses of assistive technology. Bathroom modifications were the most commonly reported environmental modification. Results from a logistic regression showed that advancing age was the primary factor associated with increasing use of helpers and assistive technology or both for difficult activities.
CONCLUSIONS: Uses of helpers, assistive technology, and environmental modification are common but vary by type of ADL and/or IADL and age. Focused studies regarding uses of help and access to assistive technology and environmental modification appear needed to support community living. Public education about methods and types of accommodations appears needed and may substitute for or augment guidance from care providers.

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