Are assistive devices suitable for me or my loved one?

Did you know that, in Canada, 1.1 million older adults use assistive technology to compensate for physical or cognitive limitations? An essential part of healthy aging involves evaluating and accepting the changes that may occur in your vision, mobility, and hearing and implementing what you need to live comfortably.


While assistive technologies provide many benefits, some older adults remain reluctant to use them. They may fear being stigmatized or discriminated against, feel a loss of independence and sense of control, or think of assistive devices as a last resort. There also may be confusion (and concerns) about what assistive technologies are publicly covered or not and under what conditions.


If you are a caregiver and considering assistive devices for your loved one, how you approach conversations about their use is an essential part of the decision-making process. Considering your loved one’s needs, preferences, and concerns can highlight how these technologies can help them. Providing examples of how assistive devices can positively impact them by enabling them to do what they love – like participating in social and community activities – while easing fears about aesthetics or stigma can make the conversation more productive.


It is essential to acknowledge that there are many types of assistive devices, and not all are required to be used 24/7. Things such as corrective eyeglasses, grab bars in the bath, non-slip floor mats, a loud-ringing phone or easy-grip utensils can significantly improve quality of life. Starting with something small may be a helpful transition into conversations about other devices that can be used to live more independently.


Whether you are a caregiver for an older adult or are curious about how an assistive device can help you, start by consulting health professionals and ask whether decision aids are available to help inform your decision-making process. If you are a caregiver, consider how you approach the conversation with your loved one to ensure you understand their needs, preferences, and concerns.


For more information on assistive technologies, read through our resources below.

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DISCLAIMER: These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal (

Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of new and old blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with changing public health recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website.