Sunday, August 5, 2007

High Tech Tools for Older Folks

Today, we look to Parade magazine to learn about some high tech offerings for the elderly. The eminently readable article follows. In the same edition, one finds the ubiquitous ad for the easy to use Jitterbug cell phone. It is encouraging to see aging technology references in "mainstream" publications.

"Many baby boomers find themselves worrying about aging parents or other relatives who are determined to remain in their own homes. The good news, says Marion Somers, a gerontology expert, is that elder care is going high-tech: “Technology is letting older people improve their quality of life and preserve their independence for longer than ever before while still getting the support and care they need.” A few of Somers’ suggestions:

• Cell phones with big buttons, bright screens and extra-loud sound. Easy to use in emergencies, with service as low as $10 a month. (Be sure 911 is on speed-dial.)

• Light sensors, to automatically illuminate the basement and paths around the house.

• Electronic envelope openers, for people with arthritis.

• A QuietCare system, to help seniors stay safe by monitoring their daily activity—including eating and taking medication—via wireless sensors positioned throughout the home. It even checks if their residence is too warm or cold. Caregivers can access reports through a secure personal Web site. For less than $3 a day, the system identifies emergencies such as falls and alerts caregivers or emergency services.

• Safe Return bracelets to help track Alzheimer’s patients if they wander off (available from the Alzheimer’s Association ).

GPS navigation devices you implant in their shoes to track Alzheimer’s patients."

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