OBJECTIVE. We sought to understand how functional status, impairment level, and use of assistive devices change over 3 years for older adults with depressive symptoms. We further explored factors that predict change in severity of depressive symptoms.

METHOD. This study used data from the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Aging Consumer Assessment Study, a longitudinal study of coping strategies of elders with disabilities. Seventy-three participants with depressive symptoms were interviewed at baseline and 3 years later.

RESULTS. During 3 years, participants experienced increased physical disability (p = .001), a decline in severity of depressive symptoms (p = .03), and an increase in the total number of assistive devices owned.

CONCLUSION. A significant number of older adults will experience a decrease in depressive symptoms over 3 years, despite an increase in physical disability. They also will obtain more assistive devices as they age.

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