Assistive technology use of older American Indians in a southeastern tribe: the native elder care study

Goins RT, Spencer SM, Goli S, Rogers JC.  Department of Community Medicine, Center on Aging, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia 26506, USA.  J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Nov;58(11):2185-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03140.x.

The objectives of this study were to examine the prevalence of assistive technology (AT) use, type of assistance used for each activity of daily living (ADL) limitation, and correlates of AT use among Native Indian aged 55 and older. Data were collected as part of a cross-sectional study of disability with 505 members of a federally recognized tribe using in-person interviewer administered surveys. Participants who reported difficulty with ADLs, including bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, walking, toileting, grooming, and getting outside, were asked about AT use. Other measures were demographics, living arrangements, receipt of personal care, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiary status, number of chronic conditions, lower body function, and personal mastery. Results indicated that 22.3% of participants aged 55 and older and 26.0% aged 65 and older reported AT use. Toileting had the largest percentage of participants who relied on AT only and getting outside had the largest percentage of participants relying on a combination of AT and personal care. Multiple variable logistic regression analysis identified receipt of personal care, having more chronic conditions, and poorer lower body function as significantly associated with higher odds of AT use. The results suggest that there is greater AT use in this sample than in same-aged adults in national samples. This greater use may be reflective of a combination of higher disability rates, cultural factors, and greater access to AT. Clinicians can use this information to identify the activities with which their patients are experiencing the most difficulty and which ones can be addressed with AT versus personal care.