Compensatory Strategies: Prevalence of Use and Relationship to Physical Function and Well-Being

Laura N. Gitlin, Laraine Winter, Ian H. Stanley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We examine prevalence of four compensatory strategies (assistive devices, receiving help, changing frequency, or method of performance) and their immediate and long-term relationship to well-being. A total of 319 older adults (>70 years) with functional difficulties at home provided baseline data; 285 (89%) provided 12-month data. For 17 everyday activities, the most frequently used strategy was changing method of performance (M = 10.27 activities), followed by changing frequency (M = 6.17), assistive devices (M = 5.38), and receiving help (M = 3.37; p =.001). Using each strategy type was associated with functional difficulties at baseline (ps <.0001), whereas each strategy type except changing method predicted functional decline 12 months later (ps <.0001). Changing frequency of performing activities was associated with depressed mood (p <.0001) and poor mastery (p <.0001) at both baseline and 12 months (ps <.02). Findings suggest that strategy type may be differentially associated with functional decline and well-being although reciprocal causality and the role of other factors in these outcomes cannot be determined from this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-666
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Gerontology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • adaptation
  • assistive devices
  • depression
  • frailty
  • home care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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