Elderly people's use of and attitudes towards assistive devices

Yeh, Hui-Ching (Anita) (2009) Elderly people's use of and attitudes towards assistive devices. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


People in developed countries are living longer with the help of medical advances. Literature has shown that older people prefer to stay independent and live at home for as long as possible. Therefore, it is important to find out how to best accommodate and assist them in maintaining quality of life and independence as well as easing human resources. Researchers have claimed that assistive devices assist in older people’s independence, however, only a small number of studies regarding the efficiency of assistive devices have been undertaken of which several have stated that devices are not being used. The overall aim of this research was to identify whether the disuse and ineffectiveness of assistive devices are related to change in abilities or related to the design of the devices. The objective was to gather information from the elderly; to identify what assistive devices are being used or not used and to gain an understanding on their attitudes towards assistive devices. Research was conducted in two phases. The initial phase of the research was conducted with the distribution of questionnaires to people over the age of fifty that asked general questions and specific questions on type of devices being used. Phase One was followed on by Phase Two, where participants from Phase One who had come in contact with assistive devices were invited to participate in a semi-structured interview. Questions were put forth to the interviewee on their use of and attitudes towards assistive devices. Findings indicated that the reasons for the disuse in assistive devices were mostly design related; bulkiness, reliability, performance of the device, difficulty of use. The other main reason for disuse was socially related; elderly people preferred to undertake activities on their own and only use a device as a precaution or when absolutely necessary. They would prefer not having to rely on the devices. Living situation and difference in gender did not affect the preference for the use of assistive devices over personal assistance. The majority strongly supported the idea of remaining independent for as long as possible. In conclusion, this study proposes that through these findings, product designers will have a better understanding of the requirements of an elderly user. This will enable the designers to produce assistive devices that are more practical, personalised, reliable, easy to use and tie in with the older people’s environments. Additional research with different variables is recommended to further justify these findings.

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ID Code: 30320
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Popovic, Vesna & Blackler, Alethea
Keywords: elderly people, activities of daily living, quality of life, assistive devices, attitudes, performance, frequency of use, effectiveness, sensory devices, bathroom devices, mobility devices
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Design
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 09 Feb 2010 03:17
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:55

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