Many seniors rely on devices to live independently, study finds

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About a quarter of Medicare beneficiaries rely on walkers or other assistive devices, according to a new study. Women were more likely than men to use devices.

Roughly a third of those over 65 said they were able to fully take care of themselves without any assistance, according to results published in December in the American Journal of Public Health.

Around 21% said they manage “by receiving help from others,” and six percent said they reduced their activities, such as going out less often.

Devices used by some study participants included canes, wheelchairs, grab bars or shower seats. While around 90% said they were able to fully eat by themselves, only 54% said they could fully bathe by themselves.

"Two groups that we identified may be especially important targets for public health intervention," said lead author Vicki Freedman, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. "These are the seven million older adults who have difficulty carrying out activities alone with whatever accommodations they have already made, and the additional 2.1 million who have reduced their activity levels but do not experience or acknowledge that they are having difficulty."

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