Assistive technology (AT) is defined as any item, piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. It can be almost no-tech items like canes, dressing sticks, effortless can openers, or low-tech, like rolling walkers, walk-in bathtubs, height-adjustable kitchen countertops for wheelchairs, automatic shut-off faucets and stoves, etc. Examples of high-tech items include: voice activated microwaves, stair-lift chairs, stair-climbing wheelchairs, smart home monitoring systems, remote health monitoring machines, or robot-nurses.
Assistive Technology Improves Quality of Life
Assistive Technology helps seniors maintain their efficacy, independence, and a sense of control over their lives. Assistive Technology is not a new concept, walking aids like the cane or wheelchair have been around for centuries; but there is an enormous need for new and innovative products that improve the quality of life the aging population. Assistive technology can make up for the shrinking number of caregivers and the skyrocketing institutional care costs. The number of adult caregivers for each person needing care is shrinking thus we need assistive technology to supplement personal care. In 1990 there were 11 caregivers for every 1 older adult. By 2050, the ratio of caregivers to older adults will be one to one. Assistive technology prolongs aging in place thus curbing institutional care costs that can cost about 70,000 a year.
Microsoft Health Vault: An Online Database of Personal Health Records.
Microsoft Health Vault is an emerging technology which empowers consumers to control their personal health records. This technology allows consumers to organize and store their health information in one place, to access their health records whenever and wherever they want to (which is particularly useful in an emergency), and to learn from data to help them make informed decisions. Microsoft HealthVault is free to consumers and it has compatible remote monitoring devices, such as blood pressure monitor, glucose meter, pedometer, and weight scale. These tools allow consumers to upload vital sign data to HealthVault to share with caregivers and care providers.
For more information please visit www.healthvault.com
If looking for an assistive device for you or a loved one, AssistiveTech.net is a website that finds and compares over 22,000 assistive devices and links people to vendors’ websites to purchase merchandize. Simply go to www.assistivetech.net
Note: The previous definitions and statistics were provided by personal correspondence with Dr Echo Chang lead researcher of the first Microsoft HealthVault study at California State University, Fullerton.
About the Author: Ryan Malone is the founder of Inside Elder Care and author of the By Families, For Families Guide to Assisted Living. He regularly speaks and advises families about how to improve their aging loved one’s quality of life. Ryan is also the president of SmartBug Media, a content marketing agency that helps companies increase leads, customers and influence. You can read more from Ryan on the SmartBug Media blog or follow him on Twitter.