Factors associated with the use of wheelchairs by institutionalized elderly people

<p></p><p>Abstract Due to the high prevalence of wheel-chair use by institutionalized elderly people, the scope of this research was to verify whether factors involving gender, age, education, length of institutionalization, comorbidities, cognition and functionality are associated with the use of such equipment, as well as ascertain the reasons for use according to the perceptions of the elderly. It is a cross-sectional descriptive study that included 55 elderly people subdivided into G1 (locomotion without assistance) and G2 (wheelchair users). Analysis of the profile in medical records, cognition and functionality by the Mini-Mental State Examination and Barthel index was conducted. Wheelchair users asked about the factors that lead to wheelchair use were recorded: 33 (60%) of the elderly were in G1 and 22 (40%) in G2. There were differences between the groups with respect to functionality (p = 0.005). The elderly who have not suffered a stroke are less likely to use a wheelchair (OR: 0.09; 95% CI: 0.02 to 0.36). Elderly wheelchair users reported: fear of falling, pain, tiredness, weakness in the legs, difficulty walking and lack of assistance in walking. Strokes and functionality are associated with wheelchair use. Knowledge of these factors and the reasons reported by the elderly may enable alternatives of prevention to be defined.</p><p></p>