As baby boomers continue to age, the percentage of people over 65 continues to increase. The Administration on Aging estimates that by 2030, there will be about 71.5 million people 65 years or older living in the United States, representing about 20% of the U.S. population (U.S. Administration on Aging, 2005). Similarly, persons with disabilities are living longer and more productive lives. Better medical healthcare, good nutrition and developments in holistic living are three reasons attributing to this trend.
According to the 2000 U.S. census, approximately 42% of the population at age 65 or older is living with a disability. However, having a disability does not necessarily translate into a diminished quality of life. Seniors are living longer and more independently, due in part to the integration of assistive technology (AT) into their lives.
Assistive technology will enable older citizens to continue to work, live independently and enjoy leisure activities. The market is beginning to show a multitude of products available to assist with aging issues. Several companies cater to senior needs.
Lift Chair: Older citizens find it increasingly difficult to sit down and get out of a recliner. The lift chair is an electric chair with a raising feature where the chair will begin to rise to a standing level when the button is pressed. Likewise, it will lower to a sitting position.
Super Pole: Another difficulty is getting out of bed. The Super Pole can be installed next to the bed from the floor to the ceiling allowing the senior to grab the pole to maneuver themselves to a sitting position then standing.
Rollator: This walker stabilizes the user while ambulating across different surfaces. It is easy to turn and pivot with this walker over other styles. An added bonus is the built-in seat to allow the user to rest when needed.
Car Caddie: This portable suction handle can be applied to a car window to help with stability when getting in or out of the car.
Lever Handles: The old-fashioned door knob is hard on arthritic hands. A lever door knob allows for different muscles to be used to open a door. The lever handles attached to a round style doorknob to transform it into an easier style to use.
Button Hook: Dressing becomes difficult with age. Button holes sometimes are impossible to close without assistance. The Button Hook is a wire loop on a wooden handle where the metal loop is threaded through a hole to grasp the Button and pull it through the hole.
Pocket Illuminated Magnifier: With age, comes decreased vision. It becomes harder to see small writing in dark areas. The pocket illuminated magnifier will magnify from 1.5 up to 10 times the text or pictures under it. The light can be turned on and off as needed.
Cardholder: Games are a leisure activity enjoyed by family and friends. Holding cards for long periods of time can become painful. A cardholder allows the user to have their cards on the table upright by placing them into slots on a block of wood.
Reachers: Reaching objects on the floor or in a cupboard causes problems for many. A reacher is controlled by handle with a long extension ending with a grabber. Therefore, the person can pick up dropped objects or reach objects above one’s head.
Automatic Needle Threader: It is nearly impossible for some to get the thread into the eye of a needle. A needle threader may be the solution because it completes the task with a touch of a button.
Amplified Telephone: Hearing decreases with age. An amplified telephone will increase the volume by many decibels by a slider. It allows both the hard of hearing and normal hearing individual to use the same headset or hand receiver telephone.
Are you looking for a good resource for aging? AARP is definitely the first place to go. They have an entire section of their Web site dedicated to resources. Visit www.aarp.org/internetresources
Job Accommodations Network
As the population ages, people will begin to work longer and longer. No longer will 65 be the average age of retirement. To find out more about working and aging, read the articles found at the Job Accommodations Network. www.jan.wvu.edu/corner/vol03iss03.htm and www.jan.wvu.edu/media/employmentagefact.doc
Have you heard the latest cliché — 50 is the new 30? It is true. As we age today, we are staying healthier and younger longer.