Activity Engagement and Everyday Technology Use Among Older Adults in an Urban Area

This article was researched and documented by Jonathan S.

In the most recent issue of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT) an article was published looking at the associations between activity engagement, everyday technology use, access to that technology and cognitive status among older adults in urban areas.

I thought it very fitting reading this article living and working in one of the most urban cities in the world where we are all constantly adjusting to the changing technologies around us and using them to enhance our lifestyles, interactions and activities. Whether it’s ordering a a wheelchair accessible taxi to your door, groceries and food delivery from the couch, increasing communication through email, video chat, text and social media or organizing one’s banking and files with a click or swipe instead of stacks of paper, our everyday technologies have the potential to significantly impact the quality of life of many older adults who do not have access to, or prior skills using such devices.

As occupational therapists and home care practitioners, we have a unique opportunity to assist our clients in increasing their participation in IADLs and tasks that they may have given up or thought beyond their capabilities.

110 older adults over the age of 65 participated in the study and were recruited from a urban community center for older adults. The study compared associations between age, gender, number of functional limitations, measured activity engagement (AE) using using the Frenchay Activities Index (FAI), number of available and relevant technologies and ability to use assistive technologies using the Everyday Technology Use Questionnaire (ETUQ), and cognitive status using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). The study hypothesized higher AE would be associated with 1) a greater number of available and relevant technologies, 2) higher ability to use everyday technologies and 3) higher cognitive status.

Results from statistical analysis found that those adults who reported higher levels of AE also reported a greater number of available and relevant technologies, no significant difference amoung groups in ability to use devices, and groups that reported higher levels of AE also scored higher cognitive status (however on ly significant between low AE and high AE groups in post hoc tests).

The ability to use everyday technologies was not strongly associated with AE suggesting that older adults with more available everyday technologies demonstrate higher levels of AE despite differences in abilities to use that technology.

The article suggests future research on this topic include socioeconomic aspects of the client profile,  pairing ETUQ with observation based measures such as the management of Everyday Technology Assessment, studying a more heterogeneous sample to generalizability of findings and including a scale comparing AE and Quality of Life (QOL).

The implications for practice learned from this study are that increasing access and availability of relavent and appropriate everyday technologies provides increased opportunity for facilitating increased participation and engagement in functional activities, and using assessments like the ETUQ complement procedures for evaluating use of such devices.


By: Ryan Walsh; Ruxandra Drasga; Jenica Lee; Caniece Leggett; Holly Shapnick; Anders Kottorp – University of Chicago
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, May 2018, Vol. 72, 7204195040p1-7204195040p7. doi:10.5014/ajot.2018.031443

How Outreach Can Help

We provide in-home Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy to individuals that have a difficult time getting/going to an out-patient rehabilitation facility on a consistent basis, prefer not to go to a facility, or those that are more effectively treated within their home.

We also have an out-patient clinic at 1110 2nd Avenue in the Sutton Place/UES area where we provide therapy for those who are adamant about receiving care in a clinic setting. Our evaluations are 45 minutes and treatments are one-to-one with an ample amount of treatment time per client (no double bookings allowed.)