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Assistive devices for elderly lacking in low and middle income countries

23rd October 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Despite poorer countries seeing the fastest growth in their elderly populations, they are lacking in assistive devices, which help those with disabilities. BMJ Innovations conducted research, which revealed that items such as home stairlifts, wheelchairs, and other orthotic devices, are only available to one in 10 people in the countries studied.

Considering the technology available in the 21st century, this is a very low number, affecting countries such as Brazil, Cambodia, and Zimbabwe. Researchers examined data from previously published studies, and found that even though assistive technologies for older adults are not widespread, they are in fact available in these countries.

More attention is needed in poorer countries

One particular study revealed that the most used and desired assistive device in Turkey is a screen reader for computers, tablets and mobile phones, while a cane is the most commonly used in Brazil. Another study revealed that just 4 per cent of those in Brazil had the assistive devices that they needed to be comfortable in everyday life.

Lead author Keshini Marasinghe told Reuters: “Certainly more attention has to be paid to bridge the huge gap in what we know about the situation of poor access to assistive technology and what can be done in terms of serving aging populations with assistive technology, inclusive of supportive legal framework and legislation surrounding it”.

One of the main reasons that many older people in these countries are going without is because of the expense of an assistive device, although initiatives to increase production of low-cost technology has begun in a number of the countries such as Egypt and India. This is thought to be due to more countries realising the importance of implementing the assistive technology measures of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Image Credit: stvcr (Flickr.com)