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How Modern Technology is Solving Mobility Issues

  • By lemaster
  • 27 Oct, 2016

Technology has become such an integral part of our lives, making tasks easier and for some, making what most of us take for granted like walking, a reality. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need help and when we did family, friends, and doctors would be there to help. Sometimes that support network isn’t always available to be there for us in the ways with which we need.

There are any number of complications that could arise to limit your mobility and diminish your quality of life. A simple accident such as a fall can be devastating for the older populations; with long recovery times and the potential atrophy of muscles, incontinence, and the like.

Enter Assistive Technology or “quality-of-life technology” , designed with the sole purpose in mind to help those who have lost their ability to do what others do normally. All manner of software, hardware, prosthetics, and robots from the sublimely simple to the ‘nth degree’ of complexity.

Assessment

Your doctor with all of the duties required of him/her in order to care for you might quite possibly forget the most important test, your mobility skill. Your ability to get around should be tested yearly or after any accident (after recovery) and even more frequently if you are 65 or older.

Physical therapist are specialist at determining your ability to move about. What they call your functional performance is measured by a test called the Tinetti Performance Oriented Mobility Assessment . Wherein they access your skills at doing basic everyday activities such as getting up from a sitting or lying down position or standing on one foot.

Another test developed by the University of Iowa that is often used is called a Get-up and Go Test , a simple but effective test for balance. What these medical professionals are discovering is that the use of a wearable fitness tracker that wirelessly transmits the patients activity is helping deliver time critical information about your prognosis during recovery. Keeping yourself mobile is of utmost importance, so here are some resources and tips to help you keep on the move.

Mobility Technology Solutions

  • Take advantage of mobility technology . There is all manner of gadgets to keep you on the move for the prideful to the practical. Carts, wheelchairs, scooters, and transporters. You name it they probably make it .
  • Maps and Directions .There are a lot of devices and software solutions out there to help you navigate around town giving you turn by turn directions, even if you are on foot. The only catch is that you have to have a smartphone with a cellular service plan or some kind of GPS device. Google Maps is an app for your phone where you can plug in the address or search type like “restaurant” and get directions to and from either your house or your current location. Here is a step by step phone screenshot of how to use the app:
  • Public Accessibility is an important feature of being mobile even if you are not wheelchair bound. Unfortunately the technology infrastructure is underdeveloped but you can help make it more “accessible” through participation. There are two great sites that have begun the process of mapping out all of the handicap accessible places around the world. One out of Germany called wheelmap.org with an app to go with it and accesstogether.org which is mostly a web based service (no app). Both are in the early stages of development and have yet to prove to be an effective tool but if you are tech savvy and willing to invest the time, sign up and help get this valuable service get off the ground. Every technology has its trickiness so heads up on wheelmap.org , it has you sign up with two different accounts to be fully operational.
  • Emergency Contact/Medical Information . In the event you become incapacitated, this app is an invaluable tool to have with you. ICE: In Case of Emergency allows emergency personnel to access your pertinent medical information and emergency contacts even if your phone is password protected. At $3.99 it is a no brainer! Always have this information in physical form on you as a backup, you never know when you will need it.            
  • Medical Alert Systems. There are all manner of wearable technology devices from the tech savvy to the novice. Depending on your circumstance and/or need they have a service for you whether it’s life threatening or you just need some assistance. If you have a landline (or cellular) there are systems that hook up to your existing service and for a fee (depending on the company) you can get prompt and professional response and emergency personnel if need be. Which is the best one for you? Consumer Reports reviews each and lays it out in a comparison chart for you to make an educated decision. Many companies have developed apps (applications/software) as part of their package deal and others stand alone but have similar features as the home editions. However you will need a smartphone, the app, cellular service plan, and in some cases a monthly service plan.
  • People Locator Applications. Ok you need four things in order to make this work but it is a pretty neat way to keep track of family and friends if you need to. One a smartphone, two a cellular service plan, three the app, four an itunes account (if using ios), and five your family/friend has to have the same. Here are three options to use to do so: “Find my Friends” (for either ios or android operating systems) allows you to locate friends by just opening the app and looking at a map. It shows you where you are in relation to those you are keeping track of. The best part is that they are free and you can customize the privacy settings so that others can see or not see where you are at any given time. These apps can be an invaluable service for emergencies, natural disasters, or if elderlies with dementia that have a tendency to wander (granted they have their phone with them). Life 360 is another great “Find my Friends” type app but with the added benefit that everyone on the service doesn’t have to be on the same operating system. So you can use it on just about any smartphone. Facebook has just launched a service called “ Safety Check ” that helps you and loved ones keep tabs on each other as well as give you location information. There are some tricks to it, so check out my tutorial on the blog series on natural disasters called, “ The Storm ”.
  • People Tracker Systems . Another great piece of technology is a tracker system for children or seniors who have a tendency to wander due to dementia or other conditions. Just attach the device to the person and track them on the web or smartphone. This is helpful if the person you are tracking often forgets their phone albeit you have to find a way to attach the device so that they cannot take it off. These often require a monthly service plan much like the medical alert systems.      
  • Vehicle Modifications. If your car begins to be difficult to get in and out of or there comes a time for other modifications there is always a solution . Many of those solutions are covered by insurance and/or Medicare/Medicaid. Check with your provider or funding resource to make sure before sinking thousands into vehicle modifications.
By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016

There is no place like home when settled and in a routine, everything in it’s right place and well established in the community. After years in one town, you have done everything that can be done in and around your house and in the community and yet you still have a yearning. Perhaps your group of friends, for whatever reason, aren’t around anymore. It is never too late to embark on one last journey after all the rest of the family is off doing their thing….why not you?

Don’t let a loss keep you from keepin’ on, carry their best traits on to another friend, read,   Befriend Anew: Being Social after a Friend has Fallen ”————->>>>>

It seems like things changed overnight in your neighborhood when you moved into your house you lived in the country, now suddenly the area developed and you practically live in the city. Maybe you live in the city and it just isn’t the laid back place you moved into originally. All of the events you use to go to are no more and all of the new events are geared toward a younger age group. You don’t even feel safe taking that morning walk anymore.

Take a good look at your community and read,  

How Does your Neighborhood Rank for Mobility Safety? ”———>>>

This scenario is more and more common and you are not alone, change is the constant in a developing world. Well there are many options available to offer you that which you have been longing for: private duty, age restricted (adult) communities, assisted living communities, continuing care retirement communities, and of course nursing homes. Depending on your health care needs there is just about any accommodation that you might desire. Some 1.6 million Americans live in Nursing homes or Assisted Living facilities.

Naturally there are pros and cons to any situation and you may not have a choice if you are dealing with a diagnosis that severely restricts your mobility. That exception aside, let us assume a variety of options within a scale of Independence.

By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016
I remember when I was young watching a documentary about chimpanzees by Dr Jane Goodall where a young chimp died from grief. It was depressing and it made me wonder if there was a link between depression and grief, when one member of a couple passes the other soon follows. For a long time mental illness was hard to describe, diagnose, let alone cure. How does one treat something that is so intangible and unpredictable?
By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016
When you are coming of age and your grandfather passes away its almost expected. As you get older and you become the elder something they don’t tell you is that your friends unexpectedly start to pass. The pain and grieving may take a toll on you and the idea of picking up again and putting yourself out there seem just unbearable.
By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016

here are many factors involved in maximizing your mobility and ensuring your environment is accessible. Sometimes all that is needed is to clean up some clutter around the house or adding more lighting to a hallway. There are hundreds of solutions and funding options available to you to make your environment safe and easy to use.

Not sure where to start? Check out NAHB ’s site to get some ideas or reach out to a healthcare or building professional; If they can’t help you they will be able to direct you to someone who can. Be sure to vet contractors and interview them with someone you trust to be there as your advocate.

  Here are 7 simple tips on keeping your environment safe:

  • Check Walkways. Paths, stairs, doorways, ramps, entryways, and steps. The integrity of the surfaces may be compromised by cracks, water rot, holes, standing water, or even motor or cooking oil spills. Check daily and keep them clear and clean of spills, ropes, hoses, tacks, toys, broken glass, nails, plant overgrowth, or other obstacles that could trip you up.
  • Slippery & Uneven .Add anti-slip tape to steps, inclines, and ramps to give added traction and safety. There are even textured paint products  to apply to walking surfaces to make them non-skid if you appreciate a more finished look. Check with a local, licensed, and insured contractor for help with building and keeping ramps and stairs well maintained.
By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016

It may not seem necessary to practice balance building exercises when you are younger and have no reason to worry. Don’t let that lack of foresight end up with hindsight reflections years later in the hospital. Let prevention be your new mantra. The danger of a potentially fatal fall is real and action should be taken into consideration. Why? Injuries from a fall is one of the leading causes of fatality for older Americans. Still not convinced? How about saying goodbye to your life savings?! Medical costs related to falls is in the hundreds of millions and by one estimate 1.2 billion dollars .

Aside from the average person being inactive there are a number of balance disorders that could be causing a loss of ability. Such conditions as positional vertigo, Labyrinthitis, Ménière’s disease, Vestibular neuronitis, Perilymph fistula, and Mal de Debarquement syndrome. Treatments can range from a simple exercise to very complex therapies administered by a professional.

By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016

Technology has become such an integral part of our lives, making tasks easier and for some, making what most of us take for granted like walking, a reality. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need help and when we did family, friends, and doctors would be there to help. Sometimes that support network isn’t always available to be there for us in the ways with which we need.

There are any number of complications that could arise to limit your mobility and diminish your quality of life. A simple accident such as a fall can be devastating for the older populations; with long recovery times and the potential atrophy of muscles, incontinence, and the like.

By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016

Your ability to navigate the city has as much to do with its infrastructure as does your skill at traversing it. That in combination with the level of public accessibility can have a major impact on your quality of life. There is a lot involved in planning a city properly for people of all backgrounds and circumstances to be able to access it easily.

What is the primary way with which you get around? Car? Bus? By foot? The ease and safety of how you get from point A to point B and back has a psychological effect on your being; as you age those options become more limited depending on your circumstance. Maintaining the Activities of Daily Living may include a certain level of mobility for you to feel engaged and enriched. Whether it means being social at your weekly gatherings at the country club or just getting good fresh ingredients for the evening’s dinner.

By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016

Generally I do not begin a blog with a disclaimer but we want you to take this advice with serious consideration and great caution. You can be injured, fatally so, if you do not follow the advice of a professional who knows the specific state and ability of your body. The following is provided for information purposes only, following these techniques does not imply proper form or ability. You have unique physical and mental needs that should be addressed by your doctor and personal trainer before starting any exercise regimen.

So you have made a resolution to start following a solid exercise plan this year (or the doctor has mandated it) and you’re determined to stay on track. The doctor has been telling you for years to exercise and there is ample research to back up the benefits of exercise for seniors . Sometimes the hardest part is having the discipline to stick with it or even knowing what exercise to do in the first place. There is a lot of information out there and everyone has some advice to give (or a plan/membership to sell) not to mention the rules are different for older adults . The CDC recommends at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of exercise per week, that is a little over 20 minutes a day. So let’s get going!

By lemaster 27 Oct, 2016

There are a lot of options available to you if the Activities of Daily Living become a little more challenging than they use to be. It may be more difficult to get your Dad to admit that he isn’t as capable as he use to be than it would be to install a couple of grab bars. Understandably we all want to maintain our independence, after all, we spend the first eighteen years of our life trying to be an adult (at least most of us TRY to).

If you have looked into moving into a long term care facility (nursing home) and it is not an option for you, then it may be time to make some modifications to your house so that it is more accessible for your changing needs. If you have a second floor or the bathroom is a bit too small or maybe the cabinets are too high for you to reach anymore, look into some remodeling. You or your loved one may be on the verge of being considered disabled if not currently diagnosed with a condition that warrants a change. It is important thing to consider because accidents and falls are one of the leading causes of decline and death in the elderly.

The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) maintains a long list of suggested renovation projects that might make life a little easier. Whatever your changing needs may be there is a solution that any good Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) contractor can help with. Lets take a look at your options from DIY to hiring a professional and the costs associated with some of the most common accessibility renovations.

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