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Assistive Technology Devices

The term `assistive technology device' means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities (Congress, 2004).

When a loved one lives with a disability, helping them stay safe without sacrificing their independence can be a balancing act. Most caregivers know that the more you do for someone with a disability unnecessarily, the more you will compromise their ability to care for themselves. In recent years, the development of new technology products has helped to bridge the gap between independence and safety.

Medication Management Systems

If your loved one struggles to take the right dose of the right medicine at the right time, they aren’t alone. Mistakes managing medication is a common reason adults end up in the emergency department of a hospital every day. Technology can help make it easier. Medication management systems range from simple automated pill containers to ones that flash and open a compartment when it is time for a medicine to be taken. Some can even send an alert to the caregiver if a dose is missed.

Emergency Response Systems

One concern almost all caregivers have is the worry that their loved one will fall when they are home alone with no way to call for help. With a personal emergency response system a simple push of the button will immediately connect the individual with the emergency monitoring center, which can dispatch an ambulance, fire response team, or even police.  The good news is that emergency response systems have become much more sophisticated and portable. They are also smaller and more discrete than in past years. There are mobile options that utilize wireless technology to allow the user to call for help from wherever they are and can be located by emergency personnel.

Wander Prevention Systems

Some disabling diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s can also cause confusion and dementia. Caregivers may worry that their family member will wander from home and they won’t be able to locate them before something unfortunate happens. GPS tracking devices come in many forms, from wearable watches, to a small wearable pendant, to GPS shoe sole inserts. These devices allow the user to be found if they are lost or have an emergency, while also giving the caregiver the ability to track their location if they go missing.

Video Communication Devices

For family caregivers who would like a video communication device that offers more options and support than Skype, Grand Care and the Claris Companion are two such units. They allow for face-to-face communication and also give caregivers a platform for sending reminder messages about medications, physician appointments and more.

Home & Facility Safety Devices

Cooking fires are a major concern for children with parents who may have dementia. Certain devices such as automatic stove shut off devices could help prevent kitchen fires. Automatic stove shut off devices monitor the kitchen for motion and will shut the stove down if there is no motion for a set period of time, which helps to prevent stovetop disasters.

For the hearing impaired, basic smoke detectors may not be heard when they are going off. Devices such as vibrating bed kits can be paired with special smoke detectors which can vibrate and alert the hearing impaired individual to notify them that there is smoke and possibly a fire in the home. Other vibrating alert devices include watches and pagers that can be paired with special doorbells, phone transmitters, and alarm clocks.

Other popular home and facility safety devices are motion alarms, bed pad alarms, and chair pad alarms. These devices can alert a caregiver that their resident is getting out of bed and needs assistance. For seniors with dementia who are a wander risk it is a good idea to have a motion detector at the door to alert the caregiver if the senior attempts to leave.

 Works Cited

Congress, 1. (2004). Public Law 108-364. Retrieved Feb. 11, 2015, from