Understanding the role of technology for meeting the support needs of older adults in the USA with functional limitations

Christina N. Harrington, Tracy L. Mitzner, Wendy A. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Issue Research shows that for the quickly growing older adult population, sustaining independence in everyday activities is a prevalent challenge, often as a result of functional limitations. Along with preexisting impairments, physical and sensory age-related changes contribute to older adults experiencing difficulties in functional limitations in performing basic, instrumental, and enhanced activities of daily living. Since many older adults elect to compensate for these challenges through the use of assistive technology, there is a need for technological support solutions that facilitate autonomy and independence among older adults, and relieve the burden of formal and informal caregivers. Method In this paper we extract pertinent information from survey data in studies that examined the challenges faced by older adults in the USA and we provide direction for the use of appropriate technological solutions. We explore the associated existing assistive technology solutions as well as the acceptance of these technologies by older adults including major barriers to their usage. Results There is very little recent data available to speak to the current needs of older adults with functional limitations. While several technological support solutions exist, there are issues of acceptance and adoption that deem these solutions ineffective, leading to low usage rates. As a result, we discuss the potential of accessible everyday technologies to meet unfulfilled needs. Conclusion However, our review highlights the need for more recent data on functional limitations of older adults and provides a call to action for more research to understand older adults' support needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Assistive technology
  • Disability
  • Everyday technologies
  • Support needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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