Assistive Technology Devices for Seniors

The elderly population, consider those 65 years or older, is expected to exceed 50% in the next two decades, according to research performed by the Department for the Aging.

Catering to the needs of seniors as well as the disabled has become a major focus of major corporations, city planners, and elder care providers in preparation of meeting the needs of those individuals.

Assistive technology devices are developed every day that make life easier, increase independence, and improve the quality of life for seniors. From large button television remote controls to amplified phones and answering machines to computers, inventors, designers and creators are using their imagination to improve independence and quality of life for seniors.

Computer Technology

Communication is essential in maintaining connectivity between seniors, whether they live in rural areas or in the middle of large cities. Computer technology has enabled more interaction and communication between individuals than any other modern invention.

Several computer manufacturers and designers have created products and designs that will cater to the needs of seniors in coming years. Touch screen monitors, video cameras and interior microphones are already a part of many computer systems today.  Homebound seniors utilizing two-way video cameras can socially engage in active and live discussions, classes, and group activities with people throughout the world.

For example, Windows 7 can enlarge sections of a traditionally sized computer screens for those with vision problems. Senior centers are teaching seniors how to use computers, social networking venues and improving their overall computer skills.

Assistive technology helps seniors adapt their way of doing things, often necessary due to degenerating health, reduced range of motion, and decreased vision and hearing.  Some of the most common assistive technology devices found in the home today and in the future do and will include:

  • Two-way communication devices that enable individuals to send and receive voice-activated messages.
  • Adaptive switches placed on light switches, wheelchairs, answering machines, and heating and air conditioning appliances. These switches are either voice activated or activated by the tongue, especially beneficial to para- or quadriplegics.
  • Prosthetics and orthotic devices have come a long way since the wooden peg legs of the 18th century. These prosthetics now enable individuals to enjoy sporting and recreational activities as never before. Special skis, driving devices, wheelchairs, and prosthetics offer independence, stability and the opportunity for seniors to participate in sports ranging from kayaking to mountain climbing, tennis and jogging.
  • Sensory devices such as closed-captioned decoding on television sets enables seniors hard of hearing to enjoy listening to television programming without turning the volume on full blast or bothering others in nearby areas in a home or living facility. Specially shaped domes with sensory equipment are placed over the heads of the listeners for a private and comfortable hearing environment.

Other assistive technology devices are not nearly as large as those mentioned above, but may help increase independence and improve quality of life in daily living tasks including grooming, dressing, eating and bathing.  Whether your loved one needs a large font calculator or a cell phone with larger, easier to see numbers, technology has kept pace with the growing needs of the elderly population.

Determining the Benefits of an Assisted Device

When considering an assistive device for yourself or a loved one, determine your specific needs and ask questions to determine whether a specific device will provide benefits in a number of scenarios. For example, some of the questions you can ask include:

  • Can the assistive device meet more than one need?
  • Will the assistive device grow with needs as time passes and conditions change?
  • What specific tasks will an assistive device facilitate?
  • Will a specific assistive device increase or improve independence?
  • Will the assistive device be a temporary or permanent fixture in the life of the senior?

Keep an eye on the development of assistive devices for seniors in order to understand the products out there that can help your loved one lead a fuller, more independent existence.

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