We’re living in an increasingly digital world. It seems like every few years there’s a new technological device or service that we soon can’t live without (remember life before Netflix?). Some of these new technologies are aimed at caregivers…but can be prohibitively expensive. The good news is that if you’re creative and keep an open mind, you can find all sorts of adaptable products to make care-giving easier.
What is assistive technology?
These are devices and products that help make day to day life easier for the user and allow them to maintain their independence. Assistive technology can be low-tech (e.g., pill organizers, shower chairs), or higher tech (e.g., life alert systems, smartphone apps).
- You’ve probably heard of a lift chair or stair lift, but have you considered an adaptive utensil to make mealtime easier?
- Getting dressed each morning can be difficult for some older adults, but devices like a dressing stick, button hook, no-tie shoelaces, or an extra-long shoehorn can help make the task easier. These devices allow an older adult to maintain their independence and sense of confidence. Retailers have started to get on board and offer adaptive clothing that is wheelchair friendly and/or non-irritating (Huffington Post ran an article about the new lines- including one by Target!).
- Something as simple as a pivot disk can make getting in and out of the car much easier for you and your loved one.
- Gillette recently introduced a new razor with caregivers in mind- it’s the first of its kind designed to shave someone else.
- Devices like Fitbit and Misfit are coming down in price and can be useful to monitor a loved one’s sleep patterns (plus some don’t look different than a regular watch).
- Although not specifically aimed at older adults, the Good Grips line of kitchenware by OXO offers cushioned handles and increased grip which can be useful for someone with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or dexterity issues.
- Finally, smartphone apps like Caring Village and Lotsa Helping Hands help with the day to day scheduling of care-giving, while apps like My Meds and carezone help with medication management.
How do you choose the best assistive technology?
Looking at all the different types of assistive technology can be overwhelming. Here are some questions to keep in mind:
- What does your loved one need help with? Will the device you’re looking at actually help with that issue?
- Does the device look like something your loved one would want to use?
- How simple is the device/app to use? Simplest is usually best
- Does the device look comfortable?
- Is the device covered by insurance/Medicare/Medicaid?
- Who can you ask for their opinion?
- Your loved one’s doctor or specialist
- Friends who have disabilities and use assistive technology
For more information about assistive technology, click here.
Medical Loan Closets can be found in the Ahead of the Curve Resource Directory under “Health Services” and “Medical Equipment.”