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August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day.  Along with the disabled, seniors are the group reaping tons of benefits of assistive technology in recent years.

As we age, we will inevitably experience the negative effects like loss of sight and mobility. These symptoms of aging can reduce someone's quality of life, especially if they are unable to work or if they live away from close friends and family members.

The good news is that there is a growing arsenal of assistive devices and technologies that can make a huge difference for older people. 'Assistive technology' is a large category that include everything from hearing aids and grab bars to wheelchair lifts and dictation software.  Due to improved safety and monitoring option, these devices are allowing seniors to stay at home and live independently much longer than they used to.

Here are some exciting recent developments:

Fall Detection

The Walabot HOME device (pictured) can be mounted on the wall of the bathroom (where 80% of falls take place) and can detect if someone falls, and the user doesn't have to wear any device. Once detected, the Walabot automatically alerts the emergency contact through the two-way voice, text message. The alarm can be disabled simply by standing up.

Medication Help and Safety

Simple devices like the Med-E-Lert Premium Locking Automatic Pill Dispenser will start flashing and make an audio alert when it is time to take your medication. Additionally, it will lock future doses to prevent overdosing.

More Elaborate devices like the MedMinder Medication Dispenser (pictured, right) will not only notify the patient when to take their meds, it will also also notify caretakers if the regimen is not being followed.  The device can connect directly to the caretaker or emergency contact so they can communicate with the user.

Mobile Apps to Monitor Health

The Kardia Mobile app (pictured, by AliveCor) allows anyone who has it to put their fingers on a sensor and within 30 seconds get a hospital quality EKG at any time.  The device is very automatic once installed, saves the results and can share with caretakers and/or medical team. It can help detect symptoms like atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, tachycardia or abnormal heart rhythm

The Omron Evolve Blood Pressure Monitor can keep on top of the users blood pressure in order to prevent heart attacks. The user need only slide their arm into the arm cuffand press a button and their blood pressure will be measured, the results stored, and the caretaker or medical team can be alerted as well.

Magnifiers for Reading and More

There are tons of devices to help those with limited vision enjoy a better quality of life.RUBY 7 HD (pictured, from Freedom Scientific) magnifies written materials to help with reading.It can also help with writing, distance viewing, and even a mirror-image self-view.

Contact Us for Help

Contact Northwest Ergonomics & Wellness if you are experiencing a loss of movement, hearing, sight, or any other disability that technology may be able to assuage. You won't know what is possible until you contact the experts. We have a dedicated team of assistive technology specialists who really care about our clients and go the extra mile to find them solutions to keep them productive and happy. You can fill out a form on the contact page, or call us at 206-707-8380.

 

Technology has afforded us so many advantages, and those with disabilities have received many upgrades in quality of life as a result. The visually impaired  have been the recipients of some great improvements in their ability to compute and function more independently.

Amazon Echo Frames

Amazon Echo Frames

Assistive Technology for the Visually Impaired via Augmented Reality (AR) Glasses

Visual impairments are very common, and there also side effects of many injuries and diseases. We have written about screen readers and ‘on screen text’ magnifiers in the past.  There are also special monitors to help those with light sensitivity (or photophobia) use a computer.

Now, for all users, including the visually impaired, there are more sophisticated tools being released that will augment their ability to navigate daily life. For instance, the Amazon Echo Frames Glasses, which are 'smart glasses.' These glasses will communicate with an Amazon Echo Dot and allow the wearer to ask questions about where they are and what they are looking at.  When away from home, the Amazon Echo Frames Glasses will be able to communicate with the Echo Dot via Bluetooth in the wearer's Android or iPhone device.  For more about the Amazon Echo Dot, see our article about smart home devices here.

The recently released Envision Glasses are also great for the visually impaired, as they audibly read back text that is in the wearer's line of sight. There is a great website called Everyday Sight that is a wonderful resource about technologies and products that the sight-impaired can utilize, along with great software designed just for this audience.

Apple AR Glasses

Apple has been developing augmented reality (AR) Glasses that will synchronize with the user's iPhone to bring info like texts and emails in to the wearer's field of vision.  With Apple's strong history of accessibility features, there is little doubt that these will also benefit those who are visually impaired, and the elderly as well.

Brain Power "Empowered Brain" Glasses System for Autism

Brain Power Glasses

Brain Power Glasses

Brain Power has developed a form of  glasses and software that helps students with autism, ADHD, and other social-emotional challenges learn the life skills crucial for happy self-sufficiency.  Their Empowered Brain™ is designed to teach 'social-emotional learning (SEL),' and help wearers achieve new levels of independence.

Windows Eye Control Integration

We have written about the benefits of "eye trackers", which allow you to control your mouse and computer with your eyes.  These are great for those with movement disabilities.  There is a new development in that Windows computers are increasingly compatible with these devices. The feature is in a beta/testing phase in Windows 10 and will be more fully realized in Windows 11. You can visit the Microsoft website to read about this integration.

WOW Computers  For the Elderly

WOW Computers for the Elderly

My WOW Computers for the Elderly

Assistive technology for the elderly is an area that is going to explode with new developments in the coming years. One such product is the My WOW Computer - designed for the elderly.

Not only does the My WOW Computer have a large screen that is easy to see, it also has touch capabilities so that seniors who are suffering with arthritis and might have a difficulty using a mouse or keyboard can easily select options that are on the screen and browse the web, send emails, etc.

Get in Touch with an Expert at Northwest Ergonomics & Assistive Technology

Northwest Ergonomics and Assistive Technology is here to help with your assistive technology needs. Our trained  experts will consult with you to understand your specific needs and provide solutions that really work. We help people of all ages who have experienced an injury or other disability.

It is important to our caring specialists that you really get the benefit of these wonderful advancements in technology. For that reason we specialize in training and follow-up to make sure that everything is working as effectively as possible for you.

To contact us, use the form on our contact page, or call 206-707-8830

What is a Smart Home Device?

Smart Home devices are those that can respond to stimulus, like commands given to an Amazon Echo device.  Smart Home devices allow those with movement problems to control their home appliances and do a variety of things with their voice, like:

  • Making phone calls
  • Setting timers
  • Setting alarms
  • Managing lists
  • Listening to music
  • Checking news and the weather
  • Ordering online essentials for the home

Amazon Echo and Alexa

Amazon has led the way in Smart Home connectivity, with their Echo listening device and 'Alexa', their artificial intelligence (AI) powered voice assistant.   The Echo device relays the user's command to the smart home appliances, allowing users to activate appliances, turn on/off lights, and even turn on their computers.

Tecla Enhances Alexa for Quadriplegic Users

Where Amazon's Smart Home functionality includes activating computing devices, the tecla-E  from tecla is a software app that allows the user to  operate software on the computer and on mobile devices.

The tecla-e allows user to use their voice to access their mobile devices, computers, and tablets.  It is designed for easily switching between and controlling the computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

Add-Ons for Speech Impaired Users

With an eye towards serving even more disabled and/or injured people (or when the user wants to stay silent and not disturb someone else), the tecla-e also works with devices that allow simple movements or even blowing air to operate computers and mobile devices, like:

Hive Active Smart Plug

The Hive Smart Plug is an adapter to that goes into a wall socket in order to plug your other devices into, and whatever is plugged into the Hive Smart Plug can be controlled via voice. You do have to invest in a hub that you communicate with to control various Hive smart plugs in your home, but The Hive app is very intuitive to use.

The Hive goes beyond simply turning devices on and off and can also communicates with other assistive technology inventions like "smart" bulbs that can be brightened or dimmed with verbal commands. The Hive can also raise or lower the temperature on the thermostat.

Google Smart Home is Powerful Assistive Technology

While Amazon is still the leader in smart home technology, don't count out Google Home which offers many of the same features and is being embraced by disabled and  injured people. An example is the Google Nest Thermostat, which is a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that is by far the most popular thermostat being installed for the last few years.

The Google Nest Audio receptor allows people to use their voices to control many of the same appliances that the Amazon Echo and Alexa control.  For instance, a Google Home device can connect to smart  light bulbs, turning them on and off via voice command.

Not surprisingly the Google device also can also allows users to access the Internet to gather useful information when they need it most. You can ask your smart speaker where the nearest wheelchair-accessible pharmacy is, or whether or not your local restaurant is open, and even call the place an order (or do it online).Google's Audio "smart speaker" will help you call for help or contact a loved one when you need assistance urgently, without having to use your smartphone.

Get in Touch with a Specialist to Set Up Smart Home Devices

All of these assistive technologies and many other solutions will work wonders for an injured or disabled person, but it is not recommended that you set them up yourself. An Assistive Technology Specialist can  install the device correctly and optimize it to work with your voice while ensuring you know how to make it work for you.

To speak with one of our team members, contact us by calling the number above or filling out a form to the right.   Our team assists with ergonomics and assistive technology of all kinds to improve people's lives and we look forward to improving yours.

 

An excellent article published earlier this month in the Oakland Press newspaper highlights the crucial impact that assistive technology has upon those who are older and feeling the effects of aging.

As we age, we will inevitably experience the negative effects like loss of sight and mobility. These symptoms of aging can reduce someone's quality of life, especially if they are unable to work or if they live away from close friends and family members.

The good news is that there is a growing arsenal of assistive devices and technologies that can make a huge difference for older people. 'Assistive technology' is a large category that include everything from hearing aids and grab bars to wheelchair lifts and dictation software.

Identifying the Problem & Getting Help

The gradual nature of many signs of aging causes us to ignore them, or perhaps even not realize they are occurring.  Ignoring or hiding issues doesn’t do any good and may be detrimental to health or quality of life.

The first step is identifying challenges and getting connected to the right people who can help. A company like ours, Northwest Ergonomics and Wellness, can help families and employers find the right resources and training to address their needs. We specialize in assistive solutions to keep people working and happily computing.

Lots of Solutions Available

The majority of workplace solutions that we are called upon to implement have to do with overcoming physical challenges to work on computers. One of our most frequently requested services is the implementation and training of Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software which can open up new worlds to those who are struggling to use their computer due to movement or sight issues.

There is also a plethora of other devices available that allow feet and your voice to trigger actions that are traditionally done with the hands.

Help for People of All Ages

These technological leaps have benefited people of all ages, not just the elderly. There are people of all ages who struggle with movement due to diagnoses like cerebral palsy and Parkinson's Disease.  Some people have experienced repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel problems.

The goal is to make the home and workspace as safe and user-friendly as safe as possible by incorporating devices thoughtfully as needed. This is best achieved when decisions are made as soon as possible and not while in crisis mode.

The Importance of Your Attitude

Change is difficult and accepting that your body is changing can be sad and frustrating.   We have found that our clients who thrive the most are the ones who stay as positive as possible about adopting new tools and processes.  Having a caring consultant like our assistive technology specialists can make a huge difference in the attitude of someone who is adjusting to new routines.

Contact Us for Help

Contact Northwest Ergonomics & Wellness if you are experiencing a loss of movement, hearing, sight, or any other disability that technology may be able to assuage. You won't know what is possible until you contact the experts. We have a dedicated team of assistive technology specialists who really care about our clients and go the extra mile to find them solutions to keep them productive and happy. You can fill out a form on the contact page, or call us at 206-707-8380.

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