The Effect of Assistive Technology Measurement on Late Life Disability Rates

Jennifer C. Cornman, Polisher Research Institute, Abramson Center for Jewish Life
Vicki A. Freedman, Polisher Research Institute
Emily M. Agree, Johns Hopkins University

Although there is a lack of agreement about optimal measures of disability, most measurement approaches are influenced by the use of assistive technology, an increasingly import source of care for older Americans. In the past, demographic and health surveys have given little attention to measuring the use of assistive technology in the older population. Hence, a variety of approaches to measuring AT use have emerged, but no systematic analysis of the various approaches has been conducted. In this paper we examine six national health and demographic surveys to 1) identify salient features in the measurement of assistive technology; 2) compare estimates of the use of assistive technology; 3) examine how measurement differences affect estimates of AT use; and 4) demonstrate the implications of the various measurement approaches for estimates of late-life disability rates. Recommendations for AT use measurement and implications for potential bias in disability rates will be discussed.

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Presented in Session 143: Disability Measurement Issues