How Assistive Technology Benefits Household Heroes
Advocacy Every day we see dramatic examples of how assistive technologies tremendously enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities. But that’s only piece of the larger story.
Family caregiving can be a full-time job. If you are a family caregiver, you already have your hands full with managing medications, scheduling doctor appointments, providing transportation and staying abreast of the latest news about your loved one's health condition.
Technology can help with caregiving in two ways: increasing the independence of people with disabilities, and by giving caregivers a much needed helping hand.
What independence really means
So many technologies—think of motorized chairs for people with mobility impairment—can vastly increase a person’s independence. Through the use of adaptive driving equipment, people with disabilities can drive themselves without relying on others for transportation. Greater independence means a better state of mind for the person with disabilities and less stress on the family caregiver.
"Newer and better technologies are constantly being developed to help people with disabilities and their family caregivers promote their health and well-being."
Some technologies help caregivers directly. For instance, lifts help with transfers from bed to chair to bath without injury to the family caregiver. Companies across the country are leaping into the market to give caregivers a much-needed helping hand. Could you use technology to help track medications? Or use a GPS locator if your loved one wanders off? These technology solutions already exist today.
As more and more older Americans want to ‘age in place’ and stay in their homes longer, safety and security is the number-one priority. Fortunately, many technologies have been developed to keep people in their homes safely, from easy-to-use personal emergency response systems to large-scale home modifications. There are technologies, too, from phone enhancements to simplified social media interfaces, to keep individuals in social contact that otherwise would be socially isolated.
Unique needs, unique service
Family caregiving is not a one-person job. There are several extremely useful systems to coordinate communication and support for the entire caregiving team. Some services can bring together caregivers and volunteers through online communities, create a Help Calendar, set up communications with health care providers and provide public message boards.
The world of technology may be changing faster than any of us can keep up with, but that is actually good news. Newer and better technologies are constantly being developed to help people with disabilities and their family caregivers promote their health and well-being. No single technology is right for all situations, so if you haven’t found what you need just keep looking. There are so many solutions out there—and more being offered every day.