Obese Older Adults More Likely To Use Mobility Devices at Younger Age
Posted Sep 10 2010 6:00am
Obese older adults are more likely to use walkers, canes, and other mobility devices at a younger age, and may run the risk of using them incorrectly, according to new research from Purdue University .
“Baby Boomers are coming of age and obesity is an epidemic for this population as well,” researchers noted. “If obesity continues at this rate, we are going to see an increase in the use of assistive devices, which can be costly to individuals and the healthcare system.”
The study, published in The Gerontologist, followed more than 1,000 individuals, ages 65 and older, and tracked both their body weight and use of assistive devices for 10 years. The data is from a national survey about Medicare patients.
A third of adults older than 65 use at least one device, and lower body disability is what drives and predicts their use, researchers said. The most popular devices are shower seats and tub stools; grab or handle bars for bathing; walkers and canes; and raised toilet seats.
Researchers also discussed that when used improperly, the intended solution could make problems worse. People should consult with healthcare professionals, such as physical therapists, about how and when devices should be used.
“You can buy these devices almost anywhere—home improvement stores, discount stores or the pharmacy. It's big business,” researchers said. “These older adults, or even their adult children or other caregivers, are just trying to cope by helping adapt to physical changes, but there is no substitute for proper use of the devices.”
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