empowerline: Resources for your aging patients

Assistive Technology and Emergency Response

Staying safe and independent in your home.

The unexpected can happen at any time. Life may be going along fine and the next thing you know, you’re in an ambulance being taken to the hospital because you’ve been told you just had a stroke. You are in disbelief and overwhelmed that one side of your body is paralyzed and you cannot move without the use of a wheelchair or walker. Your speech is slurred and you cannot communicate effectively. You are having difficulty processing information because the stroke has caused memory problems.

Or maybe your spouse just received a diagnosis of dementia. You work full time and you worry about her safety, risk of falling, or that she might forget to take her medications while you’re not home.

Or maybe you had cataracts removed to improve your vision, but later in life you were diagnosed with glaucoma and are now legally blind. You are having difficulty navigating in your home because of your vision loss and have fallen several times. You were not able to get back up after one of the falls and needed to drag yourself on the floor to get to the phone to call for assistance.

There are solutions that can assist you to live more safely and independently

There are many technologies available today that can maximize your independence and safety, depending on your individual goals and needs.   Common examples are emergency response systems, glasses, hearing aids, and wheelchairs. These and other devices that could help you to function and improve your quality of life are called “assistive technology.”

Don’t forget, the unexpected can strike at any moment, and it is vitally important to prepare for natural disasters, medical emergencies, and other emergency situations in advance.

Emergency Response Systems

Emergency Response Systems are home devices that connect you to a 24-hour call center with the push of a button. The transmitter is typically worn on a neck pendant or wristband and it sends a signal to a console that’s connected to the home phone line. When an individual pushes the button from anywhere in the house, it signals the receiver console to call the system’s emergency response center. The staff at the call center evaluate the situation, deciding whether to call an ambulance or a designated friend or family member. With most personal emergency response systems, the individual can talk with the call center staff from anywhere in the house. There are also options to aid a person who may not be able to communicate verbally or give a signal for help.

There are two levels of emergency response systems: national and local. Some local companies are run by hospitals or social service agencies. It’s worth checking out both types of service as they both have strengths and weaknesses. In most cases, the emergency response system is leased with a monthly service fee, but some companies offer the option to buy the equipment.

Other Assistive Technology

Assistive technology can improve productivity and ease life’s tasks. The right assistive technology minimizes limitations and allows you to focus on your abilities rather than your challenges. They provide a means of mobility inside and outside the home so you don’t become isolated. They give you independence, the ability to age in place, and not feel like a worry or burden to your family and friends. Simply put, these are tools that can improve your quality of life.

Examples include:

  • -Mobility aids such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes, or crutches.
  • -Hearing aids to improve hearing ability of an individual
  • -Computer or electrical assistive devices that provide cognitive assistance to help people following a brain injury or for people living with dementia
  • -Voice recognition programs, screen readers, and screen enlargement to help people use computers
  • -Books and magazines in audio format or braille for individuals who are blind or whose physical abilities require the use audio format or braille (the Georgia Library Service for the Blind & Print Disabled provides accessible library books and magazines for Georgia residents)
  • -Automatic page turners, book holders, and adapted pencil grips to aid in reading and writing
  • -Closed captioning to enable people with hearing impairments to enjoy movies and television programs
  • -Ramps to improve accessibility to buildings

Special tools for daily activities include adapted utensils, plates and cups, non-skid surfaces, and specially designed toilet seats and shower stalls. Kitchen implements with large, cushioned grips can help people with weakness or arthritis in their hands. Medication dispensers with alarms can help people remember to take their medicine on time. People who use wheelchairs for mobility can use extendable reaching devices to reach items on shelves or pick up dropped items from the floor.

How do you find assistive technology?

Emergency Response Systems
Emergency response systems are ever increasing in the market. With so many options available, can be daunting to figure out which system is right for you or your loved one. As with any service product, there’s a range of features, pricing, and quality available. Arming yourself with a little information can help you shop wisely. Contact empowerline and our trained counselors will provide you with a variety of resources for emergency response systems to assist you in making a decision on which system best meets your needs, as well as your pocketbook.

Other Assistive Technology
Assistive technology are improving and being developed every day to meet the needs of older persons and individuals with disabilities. There are many companies selling these products, making it overwhelming and difficult to narrow the search to the device that meets your needs.

You can visit this helpful website to explore assistive technology. Or contact empowerline, and our trained counselors will provide you with a variety of resources for assistive technology, which will enable you to explore the technology that will improve your independence and safety.

Use Empowerline’s search for services resources to find services and providers near you.

Study Opportunity for Persons Living with Dementia & Caregivers

MapHabit is seeking participants to improve assistive technology as an effective resource for people with dementia and their care partners by incorporating the use of their app in your day-to-day life. The deadline to enroll is September 30, 2022. Please view this flyer for more information to sign-up.

This article was first produced and published by ARC’s Empowerline. Learn more at https://www.empowerline.org

This information was brought to you by a RRF Foundation on Aging grant received by the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) – Agency on Aging.