Objective. This article examines assistive device use by home-based elderly persons with arthritis.

Method. Sixty-six persons were interviewed for the State University of New York at Buffalo (University at Buffalo) Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Consumer Assessment Study, which sought information on need for and current use of assistive devices. Subjects were assigned to a moderate or a severe arthritis group according to the impact of arthritis on their activities.

Results. Subjects in the severe arthritis group had more chronic diseases, a higher level of pain, and a lower level of independence in self-care activities than subjects in the moderate arthritis group. Similarities between the groups included relatively poor health, high rate of medication use, depression, use of a high number of assistive devices (about 10 per person), and an expressed need for additional devices, such as reachers, magnifiers, grab bars, jar openers, and bearing aids. Generally, there was a high rate of satisfaction with the assistive devices used. Most subjects missed being able to participate in at least one activity; most of these activities were active and many related to leisure time.

Conclusion. Findings also revealed that subjects had inadequate information on assistive devices, which suggests the importance of more occupational therapy involvement with elderly persons in selecting devices.

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