A Guide to Assistive Technology for the Elderly

Age-related changes can make it challenging to carry out everyday tasks and interact with people, resulting in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. These alterations might be considerably more noticeable if the person suffers from a chronic illness, leading to social isolation and loneliness. Many senior citizens fear losing their independence, which is another concern.

Even though physical changes can bring along some new difficulties, assistive technology may help seniors overcome many of these problems. Any device that facilitates tasks for people with physical and cognitive disabilities is considered assistive technology. Some types of assistive technologies are very complicated, requiring operating systems, robotic components, or computer software to function. Canes and walkers are two much simpler varieties.

This article will introduce you to the many assistive technologies available for older adults and discuss their advantages.

What is Assistive Technology?

Assistive technology is any gear, equipment, gadget, or gizmo that aids a person in living the full, independent, and fulfilled life they desire. Although assistive technology can benefit a wide range of users in numerous ways, it primarily intends to aid older people by enabling them to live in their homes for extended periods while reducing their dependence on family members, caregivers, and other individuals.

What are the benefits of assistive devices?

Many people can benefit from assistive technology in countless ways, such as helping someone with dementia remember specific things, a stroke survivor communicate, someone with visual impairment access the internet, or even a healthy senior citizen secure their home.

Electronic equipment is often the most likely to aid your elderly relative. Medicine dispensers, telemedicine systems, and medication reminders can all help with health. With virtual assistants, communication and visual aids, and memory aids, independence and comfort may be the main focus. Smart smoke alarms, doorbells, controlled lighting, and water-overflow devices are only a few examples of assistive technology that a person can employ for home safety and security. 

Various types of assistive technology and devices

You can buy several assistive devices to help your older loved ones around the house and maintain their independence for longer, relieving your concerns. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Personal Alarms

With the aid of these little wearing pendants, assistance is always just a button push away. Personal alarms interact with a central hub located next to your loved one’s landline to inform you, a close contact, or a monitoring team. It allows you to speak with your loved one directly, figure out what’s wrong, and immediately provide appropriate support. These are particularly helpful if a senior citizen has had a fall and cannot stand up on their own.

  1. Telecare Systems

Many telecare monitoring systems, which use sensors placed throughout the home to track digital activity, also come with personal alarms. Telecare monitoring systems only sound the alert when they sense something odd or wrong, like sensor-based burglars or car alarms. If your elderly loved one does not leave their bed in the morning or has not shut the front door, a 24/7 monitoring crew (or you via an app) gets the notification and may call a neighbor to check on them.

These systems enable persons with Alzheimer’s or dementia to live independently, knowing their family or friends will be informed if they encounter a problem.

  1. GPS Trackers

GPS trackers are worn on the body like personal alarms and occasionally integrated into them. If your loved one isn’t answering the phone or hasn’t been home for some time, you can find out where they are by using these wristbands and fobs.

GPS trackers are an excellent, inexpensive solution if you are a caregiver for a dementia patient prone to wandering. Caregivers can have their patients wear them so that their alarm system notifies them if the person leaves a specific area.

  1. Home Safety & Security

Numerous small devices and gadgets might help make life in the home a little bit simpler and safer, and most of them are reasonably priced! These individual gadgets can all contribute to making your elderly loved one’s home a safer place for them and relieving some of the caregivers’ worries. Smart doorbells and locks can increase the security of their houses while also allowing you to monitor them and any visitors that may be coming. 

Automatic lighting, specialized smoke and fire alarms, fall sensors, and water overflow sensors all contribute to making your elderly loved one’s house safer and extending the amount of time they may live independently.

  1. Memory Aids

For many people, forgetfulness is a normal component of aging and is not always a sign of dementia. The good news is that numerous forms of assistive technology can help remind your loved one to remember their keys or that they need to take medication. Devices like automatic medication dispensers, memo reminders, and many more can assist in reducing some of the stress associated with remembering everything we need to in a given day.

  1. Communication Aids

There are assistive technology solutions for any communication issues an older person can experience. Accessible cell phones can help seniors stay in touch with friends and family, minimizing loneliness and isolation, which are regrettably frequent among older people. Speech-generating tools can assist people with speech impairments regain their voice.

  1. Visual Aids & Screen Readers

Visual impairment should not prevent senior citizens from using some of today’s incredible technologies, such as computers, tablets, and smartphones. People having trouble seeing or are blind can use assistive technology to navigate these gadgets. With screen readers, visually challenged people can navigate a computer, smartphone, or tablet, make decisions about future steps, and access the internet. The accessibility controls on most modern devices provide screen reader options, but some alternative downloaded options might be more suitable for you.

Ethical Issues Concerning Assistive Technology for the Elderly

Consider a few things when deciding whether or not your elderly relative will benefit from assistive technology. Digital monitoring and activity surveillance may worry or perplex certain people. While most assistive technologies, such as those with motion sensors, don’t actively record behavior with video or communicate information to anyone, a few telecare packages and smart doorbells do so, which may be unnerving to some. Although these items have worked hard to ensure privacy, it is crucial to keep in mind while looking into assistive technology, especially if your loved ones are happy living with them.

Another thing to consider about assistive gadgets is whether they complicate the activity they are attempting to simplify for your senior relative and whether they diminish social contact that your loved one enjoys. For instance, installing a telecare package could result in your loved one needing fewer visits from a social worker or a senior citizen needing fewer welfare visits from friends.

When selecting assistive technology, there are many factors to consider, but when done right, it can significantly increase older people’s sense of safety and well-being.

Alzheimer’s Research Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. We provide the latest information and news about the illness and helpful tips to help caregivers cope with their daily caregiving challenges. We realize the most important thing that a caregiver needs is financial assistance. Therefore, we provide grants to caregivers to ease their financial burden. Caregivers can apply for grants here: Alzheimer’s Grant Application

You can also help caregivers in their endeavor by donating as much as possible: Donation To Alzheimer’s Research Associations.

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