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How Adaptive Devices Can Help You Age in Place

| Ageing

"It’s time to cook dinner. Shall I fold the laundry while you take out the bins?"

These may sound like ordinary, everyday exchanges. But for millions of elderly Australians who prefer to receive in-home aged care or domestic support and assistance if they are living with a disability, activities of daily living like the above may pose challenging.

Cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, or even just relaxing can look entirely different when you have physical or cognitive challenges. In fact, a lack of mobility may cause someone to neglect not just their living space, but their personal hygiene and wellbeing as well. What’s more, older adults who lose their mobility have higher rates of disease, disability, hospitalisation, and death. Overall, they report a poorer quality of life than other demographics.

The ABS’s latest (2018) report on disability, ageing, and carers states the following key statistics:

  • One in every six Australians (15.9% or 3.9 million people) was aged 65 years and over (up from 15.1% in 2015).
  • Most older Australians (persons aged 65 years and over) were living in households (95.3%), with 4.6% living in cared accommodation.
  • Half (49.6%) of all older Australians had disability (similar to 2015).
  • 1.3 million older Australians living at home needed some assistance with everyday activities, and of these, almost two-thirds (65.9%) had their need fully met (down from 69.2% in 2015).

Technology Can Help, But Don’t Overlook Simplicity

Technological innovation and advances have for many years been used in the aged care and disability support sector to help improve the quality of life of care recipients. However, technology-based aids can be very expensive and may come with a steep learning curve. Plenty of non-tech devices, while less glamorous but equally important, are available in stores and online. Overall, senior-oriented devices are becoming more attractive to fit better into today’s lifestyles. This trend is what Right at Home International Director of In-Home Care Technology and Innovation Bailey Paxton calls "a convergence of age and consumer technology".

Here are some common in-home mobility challenges for seniors and people living with disabilities, along with some simple and more costly technology solutions.

Navigational Challenges

  • Ramps: Portable or installed ramps to help avoid steps, uneven thresholds, or changes in elevation, are often crucial for wheelchair or scooter users.
  • Walkers: Available in high-tech, lightweight materials and can come with cup holders, bag holders, and stylish bags.
  • Stair lifts: On the high-cost end, motorised seats that transport individuals up and down stairs, can reduce the risk of falls and minimise physical strain.

Safety Concerns

  • Anti-slip flooring and mats: Installing non-slip mats and tiles in areas prone to becoming slippery, like bathrooms and kitchens, can significantly reduce the risk of falls.
  • Yoga or Pilates socks: They have grip patterns that provide stability during exercise, which can also provide a good grip for walking on various floor types. They come in different sizes and colours and fit better than standard-issue hospital grip socks.
  • Electronic security alarms and motion-sensor lights: They provide reassurance. Motion-sensor lights can also be installed anywhere indoors from hallways to toilets.

Bathroom Challenges

  • Walk-in tubs: These bathtubs with doors allow users to enter without having to step over high tub walls.
  • Raised toilet seats: These attachments elevate the height of the toilet seat, making it easier to sit down and stand up. They often come with armrests for additional support. Some even come with a bidet attachment.
  • Grab bars: They are not what they used to be! There are many fashion-forward styles that can be hidden in plain sight without looking like grab bars.

Kitchen Challenges

  • Reachers: These are extending tools that allow users to grab items from high shelves or hard-to-reach places without stretching, standing on tiptoes, or using stepladders.
  • Jar openers: These provide additional grip or leverage, making it easier to open jars and bottles.
  • Kettle tippers: These nifty devices work with many electric kettles to ensure safe pouring.

Bedroom Challenges

  • Bedrails: Bars attached to the side of the bed can provide both security and support for getting in and out of bed.
  • Overbed tables: These are adjustable-height tables that slide over the bed, providing a surface for meals and activities.

Living Room Challenges

  • Lift chairs: These are recliners that tilt forward to help the individual move from a seated to a standing position or that allow them to lie flat.
  • TV hearing devices: These are tools that amplify or transmit the audio from televisions directly to headphones or hearing aids.

One Size Does Not Fit All

"When it comes to assistive tech, there are a lot of things you can do to age safer at home," says Paxton.

"But there is no one size fits all approach. Rather, it depends on the person, where they live, and their needs."

Manufacturers are improving the way they respond to the growing needs of Australia’s ageing population. At Right at Home, we are committed to helping individuals thrive as they age in place. Each Right at Home office is your local expert. They can do a complimentary in-home assessment to address aspects of your home that may increase your fall risk and make recommendations on how to keep you safe and living independently at home.

In addition to assessments your local Right at Home office can provide home care as an approved provider of home care packages and a provider of private pay care. Our services help you become more independent and be able to stay at home for longer. Check out our home care services here. 

Keep up to date with COVID 19 information on the following links: 

Australian Government Department of Health  

Victorian Health and Human Services 

NSW Health 

Queensland Health 

ACT Health 

WA Department of Health 

Tasmanian Department of Health 

Northern Territory Department of Health 

SA Health 

Founded in 1995, Right at Home offers in-home companionship and personal care, and assistance to seniors (elderly and aged care), and any adult who needs our care at home including adults living with a disability who want to continue to live independently or age in their home. Right at Home is your local expert for issues related to caring for your loved ones and is dedicated to keeping you informed about home care. With no package management fees, Right at Home allows you to get more care from your package or budget. 

Right at Home is a 'My Aged Care' government approved, home care provider for levels 1 – 4 and offers flexible in-home care services such as nursing care, after hospital care, post-operative care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer's care. Right at Home also offers assistance with daily living and personal care such as grooming, hygiene, transport, shopping, meal prep, domestic services and social support, so your loved one can enjoy a more independent, vibrant life. Our nurses and caregivers are screened, highly trained, and insured prior to entering your home so you can trust us with the caregiving while you focus on your loved one. 

To find out more, please give us a call on 1300 363 802 or visit our website. 

Right at Home Offices in Australia: ACT & Queanbeyan; ACT Canberra; Adelaide Central; Brisbane Bayside; Brisbane North; Brisbane South; Brisbane West; Central Queensland & Wide Bay; Central West New South Wales; Darling Downs; Far North Queensland; Gold Coast North; Gold Coast South; Gosford; Greater Logan; Hunter & Port Stephens; Ipswich Lockyer Valley; Kalgoorlie Wheatbelt; Macarthur Penrith; Mackay; Melbourne Brighton: Melbourne Glen Waverley; Melbourne North; Moreton Bay Region; Newcastle; Noosa, Gympie & Hinterland; Northern Rivers; Padstow St George; Perth Midland; Perth Northern Suburbs; Perth South Eastern Suburbs; Perth West Coast; Southern NSW; Southwest Victoria; Sunshine Coast; Sydney Central & Eastern Suburbs; Sydney Five Dock; Sydney Inner West; Sydney Liverpool; Sydney Lower North Shore; Sydney Northern Beaches; Sydney Norwest; Sydney Parramatta; Sydney Ryde; Sydney Sutherland Shire; Sydney The Hills; Sydney Upper North Shore; Townsville; 

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