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More Seniors Using Mobility Devices, Study Shows

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More and more senior citizens are relying on mobility devices–like canes and wheelchairs –to get around, a new study shows.

The study, which was led by Dr. Nancy Gell of the University of Vermont, Burlington, involved a massive survey of older American adults. It found that roughly 8.5 million Americans (about 24-percent) said they regularly use a cane, walker, wheelchair, scooter or some other kind of mobility device during the past month. In fact, about nine per cent said they use more than one mobility device.

Gell says that means more seniors are relying on these devices. “The percentage of older adults using mobility devices has increased over the last three decades, and multiple device use is common in those who use any device,” Gell said.

Most of the time mobility devices are prescribed to prevent falling, and for good reason, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it’s estimated that, each year, between 20- and 30-percent of seniors have a fall.

Interestingly, Gell’s study shows that people who use mobility devices are not significantly less likely to have a fall than people who do not use such devices. However, “activity-limiting worry” was 30-percent higher in people who used only canes versus people who used no mobility devices at all.

Gell says it’s important that people use the mobility device that best suits their needs and adds that they should receive proper training and safety assessments on using that device before employing it.

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