Older adults are the largest group of wheelchair users yet there are no peer-reviewed studies on the national profile of older wheelchair users in Canada. We investigated the characteristics of wheelchair users in a national sample of community-dwelling older adults from the Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA-2). Questions on the use of assistive technology were asked of 5395 Canadians (over 64), and 4.6 per cent reported using a wheelchair. Logistic regression was used to model the factors associated with wheelchair use. Controlling for age, gender, and cognitive impairment, older adults who reported greater dependence in basic self-care and instrumental activities of daily living were more likely to use a wheelchair. However, the effects of self-care dependence on wheelchair use varied by gender, with men more likely than women to use wheelchairs with increasing self-care dependence. The number of chronic health conditions and being unmarried also increased the odds of wheelchair use. This paper quantifies the risk of wheelchair use according to critical factors that can be used to project use and plan for services.
The data reported in this paper were collected as part of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging. The core study was funded by the Seniors' Independence Research Program, through the National Health Research and Development Program (NHRDP) of Health Canada (project no. 6606-3954-MC[S]). Additional funding was provided by Pfizer Canada Incorporated through the Medical Research Council/Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada Health Activity Program, NHRDP (project no. 6603-1417–302[R]), Bayer Incorporated, and the British Columbia Health Research Foundation (projects no. 38[93-2] and no. 34[96-1]). The study was coordinated through the University of Ottawa and the Division of Aging and Seniors, Health Canada. Additional funds for the preparation of this manuscript were made available from the Opportunities Fund of the M-THAC Research Unit (from Medicare to Home and Community) at the University of Toronto, and from a post-doctoral fellowship awarded to the first author by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.