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Access to age-assistive technology: A resilience building measure for older people

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This report explores the intersection between age, gender and disability and the use of assistive technology (AT) by older people, in emergency response and as a tool for disaster risk reduction (DRR). The report shows that AT can have a positive impact on independence, vulnerability reduction and resilience-building for older women and men in humanitarian crises. This report urges for sensitization and capacity building of humanitarian organizations for the inclusion and promotion of assistive product (AP) provision in humanitarian response and offers insight into key areas to enable AT provision to successfully meet the needs of older people.

The key recommendation arising from this study is to ensure the provision of AT is embedded in both DRR and emergency response programmes and integrated into mainstream development programming. To enable the effective provision of AT the following recommendations are also made (p. 5):

  • The collection of disaggregated data on sex, age and disability and the use of tools such as collecting age data in 10-year cohorts and the Washington Group short set of questions.
  • The inclusion of older people in humanitarian response planning for DRR measures and identification of key APs that would support older people.
  • With little information globally on the need for AT relating to self-care, there is a need for exploration of the use of low-cost AT in emergency contexts and increase access to such basic products to help them.
  • HelpAge and other humanitarian actors should promote the WHO ‘four steps’ of AT service provision (proper assessment, fitting, user training, and follow-up) within wider humanitarian response amongst other stakeholders to ensure that the AT needs of older people are integrated into wider health systems.
  • Within the constraints of an emergency setting, there may be scope to explore APs that could support older people but without being provided through professional teams such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
  • In terms of the humanitarian policy landscape, there is increasing recognition of the needs of older people and older people with disability, specifically linking the intersection of age, gender and disability, and the need for AT to maintain their independence and autonomy.