Feb 12, 2020
If you’re finding certain daily tasks more difficult to carry out as you get older, it might be time to invest in assistive technology designed to make independent living easier. There is now a wide range of handy devices available that can help you to stay comfortable and safe at home. Whether you want emergency assistance on hand in case you fall or you need help remembering to take medications and make appointments, you can turn to technology.
Here are some of the most useful devices for older people:
Personal alarms, such as the Age UK Personal Alarm, are designed to make people who live alone feel safer and more secure. If you suffer an accident like a fall, these alarms allow you to call for help. They operate 24/7 and will call an emergency response centre in seconds when you press the button. The devices have a two-way speech link, allowing you to speak to an operator. Alternatively, the operator can call your emergency contacts to help you.
A personal alarm can fulfil some of the same functions as a mobile phone, but there are crucial differences. For example, personal alarms are smaller than mobile phones and they are designed to be worn, meaning you will always have your alarm with you. You can have yours on a pendant around your neck or wear it around your wrist like a bracelet. The Age UK Personal Alarm is also waterproof, so it can even be worn in the bath or shower. These devices also have longer lasting batteries than mobiles, so you don’t have to charge them overnight, and they are connected to an emergency response centre around the clock. Also, to activate one of these alarms, you simply press a button; you don’t have to turn them on or dial any numbers.
As well as giving you added peace of mind, having a device like this can reassure your family and friends that you will have access to help in an emergency.
When you take medication every day, it can be difficult to keep track of whether you’ve had your tablets. This is where pill dispensers come in. You may imagine a dispenser to look like the one pictured below, however, more advanced models can now be loaded with up to four weeks’ medication at once and can sound an alert when you need to take your next dose. The alarm then stops once you have removed the pills. Certain dispensers will even notify your family members by text if you miss a dose.
From your house keys to your wallet or reading glasses, you might be prone to losing certain items. If you feel as though you spend too much time searching for things like these, you may benefit from getting a locator device. To use these systems, you simply attach small sensors to the items you’re likely to misplace. A remote control featuring a transmitter will then help you to track these items down by activating alarms in these sensors. Locator devices can work up to a range of around 45 metres, which is more than enough to help you find things you lose at home.
Because of the risk of fire, getting distracted while cooking can be dangerous. The good news is, there are now special alarms available that are intended specifically to mitigate this risk. Stove alarms are designed to stop you from leaving your cooker on and unattended. The more advanced ones will learn how you typically use your cooker (preventing false alarms), and will sound a warning if your oven temperature gets too high. They can play an important role in helping to prevent fires.
If you need help remembering to complete specific tasks, a memo reminder could make a handy addition to your home. You can use these gadgets to record short messages that remind you what you need to do each day. There are also models available with motion sensors that are triggered when you walk past them. For example, you can place one of these devices by your front door and set it up to remind you to take your keys with you before you leave.
The ‘smart home’ is revolutionising the way everyone, not just older people, live. You can use this technology to control a whole range of features in your home and make independent living easier. For example, using voice or mobile phone-controlled apps, you can adjust anything from your lights and window blinds to your radio without leaving the comfort of your chair or bed. You might also want to think about having a smart thermostat installed that will keep the temperature of your rooms exactly how you like it.
Smart technology can make life easier, safer and more comfortable - and the solutions available are becoming more sophisticated all the time.
Deciding on the best solutions for you
Finding the right assistive technology is a matter of personal preference and need. The devices that work well for someone else may not be the right choice for you. If you’re not sure which solutions to go for, you might want to speak to your family and friends for advice, or you could consult an occupational therapist.
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