Is Supportive Technology for Seniors Easy to Install?
The bottom line:
- Supportive technology spans many devices that allow seniors to maintain their independence while ageing in place.
- Assistive technology brings many benefits when used correctly, including minimising isolation, keeping seniors safer and saving seniors money.
- Supportive tech can be easy to install, but it depends on what type of tech and how complex it is. Some programmes do, however, provide free installations of assistive technology for the elderly in Ireland.
As Ireland’s population ages and more and more seniors choose to age in place, it’s only natural that they and their family members seek out technology to help them do so in as much safety and comfort as possible.
However, when the subject turns to supportive technology, one of the first questions is how easy it is to actually implement. This subject covers installation all the way to usage, as there’ll be no point investing in technology if it’s not put to good use.
On that note, let’s find out a bit more about assistive (or supportive) technology and its uses.
What is Assistive Technology?
Let’s start off with the fundamental question of what actually is supportive technology for seniors? This question, however, is harder to answer than it may seem, as it spans such an extensive range of items. In short, assistive technology for seniors is any device, software or equipment that helps seniors go about their daily lives. It can be as high tech as a fully functional tech hub set up to monitor their every move, or as low tech as a walking stick or wheelchair, which helps them safely get from A to B.
When we talk about assistive tech nowadays, we’re most often not referring to mobility aids and are more likely to be talking about new gadgets that make life easier for the older population. The options on the market are endless and quickly becoming a key part of support planning, giving seniors the independence they need to keep living a full life as they stay in their own homes. Some options include:
- Apps that read texts out loud and do all sorts of other things,
- automatic medicine dispensers,
- memory aids,
- wearable fitness trackers
- remote controls with big buttons.
The benefits include more autonomy, privacy, and dignity, not to mention connectivity and sociability, but that’s not all.
The Benefits of Supportive Technology for Seniors
The benefits of supportive technology are wide-ranging and depend on the types of devices chosen and how well they’re implemented. However, when used effectively, assistive tech can provide all of the following benefits:
Supportive tech minimises isolation:
As we barrelled into the 21st century and the technological revolution that came with it, the younger generations have taken every advance in their stride, adapting to the new digital world now available to us. Though seniors may have kept up to some extent, internet access and use among adults aged 50 and over in Ireland has been found to decrease as age increases, which means that many seniors are cut off from the digital world. However, this can all change with the introduction of supportive technology, especially devices that allow for video calling. These devices could be the incentive seniors need to get involved with the internet and the world of opportunities it brings, minimising their isolation as they keep in touch with family members and friends.
Supportive tech boosts social connections:
As well as minimising isolation, assistive tech could even increase social contact, whether it’s through family members spending time teaching seniors how to use their new devices or through them checking in because of how it works. When used effectively, assistive tech is an excellent addition to a great support system, filling a gap when physical support isn’t present by boosting connectivity with the world outside a seniors’ home.
Supportive tech keeps seniors safer:
Whether reminding them to take their meds on time or sending out an alert in the event of a fall, assistive tech could be that all-important connection to the outside world when seniors need it most.
Supportive tech increases seniors’ independence:
The connectivity provided by assistive tech enables care to be delivered only when seniors want and need it. This means they’re freer to go about their daily lives and gives them the peace of mind that should they need it, help is only the push of a button away.
Supportive tech saves seniors money:
Last but certainly not least, assistive tech could save seniors money, as it could reduce the in-home care they pay for, allowing funds to go further and them to get more out of life.
Myths about Supportive Technology for Seniors
Though the benefits of assistive technology are endless, certain myths are also circulated that may put people off the investment.
- Using it is cheating: One of the most common myths is that using technology to assist you in your daily needs is “cheating” – that you should do things for yourself. The idea also exists that seniors may become over-reliant on it, especially when it comes to mobility or hearing equipment – that the more they use it, the worse their mobility or hearing will become.
- Myth busted: using any equipment to help keep you safe and active as you age is far from cheating and is unlikely to reduce your abilities. In fact, whichever aids you may opt for, they’re most likely to help keep you active for longer, allowing you to maintain your independence and stay in your home safely as you age.
- It’s expensive.
- Myth busted: while buying all the assistive tech out there may come at a high cost if you do it all at once, the best way to invest in supportive tech is by doing so one item at a time. Start by pinpointing needs and finding pieces of equipment to meet those needs. You can then build up gradually if you want to, keeping within budget as you do.
Is Supportive Technology Easy to Install?
Now onto the main question: is supportive tech easy to install? And the answer is that it depends on what you want it to do. As we’ve explained, supportive technology covers a vast range of equipment, so if you’re installing a doorbell with a camera, it’ll be relatively easy if you follow the instructions. If you’re linking up a monitoring system that checks that a senior has got out of bed, used a certain number of plugs (for a cup of tea and then to turn the telly on, for example), it’ll be a bit more of a complicated process. If you’re not sure where to start, a good place could be getting a personal alarm for the senior in question, which is funded for people aged 65 and older and of limited means by the Seniors Alert Scheme, covering all equipment and installation.
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