Make Your Home Safe Again!

By Maggie Drag

As we age, we often forget that our homes should age with us! As more and more people aged 65 and older (90 percent according to AARP to be exact), choose to stay in their homes, many don’t follow the proper steps to make their homes safer.

Just a few updates will prevent falls and tragic accidents down the road, so take a look at our list of tips on how to make your living space safer, comfortable and convenient for life!

Stop trips for good

Place a non-slip pad under throw rugs.

  • The number one cause of trips in homes are slippery throw rugs, so make sure to make each rug slip proof with sticky pads or slip-proof tape.
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, make sure that the surface isn’t too slippery. Either use slip-proof flooring or apply slip-proof coatings.
  • Try installing longer power cords for your electronics, lamps and appliances that you can tuck along a wall to avoid trips in the future.
  • Many homes have thresholds, a small raised edge, between two doors. This can cause trips and make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and walkers. Remove barriers like this with automatic door bottoms that act like special bridges that move across a difficult edge or barrier between doors, different rooms and other surfaces.

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Blitab Braille Tablet for the Blind – Is it needed?

Blitab Braille TabletAs someone who has promoted the Universal Design concept for decades, I was taken back by a Futurism video I saw on the Blitab braille tablet. It is billed as “The World’s First Tablet for the Blind”, but that’s not true, and it’s arguably not nearly the best either. That title, in my view, goes to the Apple iPad with all of its accessibility features, but more on that later. This short article explains my concerns with the Blitab product and the company developing it, because they don’t seem to understand their market or target user. I urge any of my blind friends to challenge me on this assertion in the comments below.

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Aging at Home: Common Problems-Solutions

Here at Modern Health Talk, you’ll find hundreds of solutions for safe & independent aging-in-place, including dozens of articles about the principles of Universal Design, and numerous photo examples on our Pinterest boards. But today’s guest post brings together many solutions in one article.

Aging at Home: Common Problems & Solutions

For wheelchair accessibility, this home had a ramp installed. It's a removable model, but more permanent designs are available.

By Jessica Hoefer (Here’s the original.)

The most common problems as you age in your home:

As we get older, many of our homes no longer work as well for us. But most of us want to remain in the homes we love.

Fortunately, there are many solutions, and there are trained experts in home modification all over the country. There are also new tools to address the specific issues of aging.

Home Advisor has joined with the National Aging in Place Council® to create this guide to making your home work for you. Here you will find: Read More …

Presidential Report on Independence Technology

Independence TechnologyIn an 80-page report issued this week, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), made several recommendations to address America’s aging population with independence technology. They include:

  • mHealth innovation,
  • remote patient monitoring,
  • telehealth expansion and reimbursement,
  • broadband access for seniors,
  • more sophisticated wheelchairs, and even
  • home designs for sustained independence.

What follows is a highlighted extract from the report’s Executive Summary. Read More …

Tribute to Steve Jobs (1955-2011), iPhone 4S and iPad 2

iSad candle imageEDITOR: This 2011 article is being republished in support of CNN’s documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which aired the first week of 2016.

With his vision, marketing savvy, attention to design & usability details, and ability to deliver total solutions around complete value chains, Steve Jobs revolutionized almost everything he touched, even turning technology into fashion. Those white earbuds, for example, tell people you are cool. The CNET video below takes us through the ups & downs of a career that changed both the tech industry and our culture at large.

In his 2005 “connecting the dots” Stanford commencement speech, Jobs spoke of finding work you love and the inevitability of death, which he described as “the single most important change agent of life.” Jobs said the end of one life makes room for others and told graduates, “your time is limited, so don‘t waste it living someone else’s life.” He concluded by advising them to “Stay hungry; stay foolish.”

Somehow I find it ironic that Jobs later got a Liver transplant ahead of many others because he was wealthy enough to have access to a private jet to get him there stat. I’m not complaining, just reflecting on this as an example of medical ethics issues that I find difficult & fascinating.
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Healthcare Robots – a growing collection

Google"s Robot?With arguably the largest aging population relative to its total, Japan leads the world in the production of healthcare robots as a way to cope with the growing need for eldercare and shrinking numbers of working people left to give that care. It’s not surprising that many of the robots featured in this collection originate from Japan.

Below are dozens of robot images, followed by images representing 8 videos that you can watch by clicking on each image. The list of related articles will expand over time as we discover new and interesting articles on robots. Comment below if you find one you’d like to share. Read More …

Designing Homes for Older Adults

The Accessible Home

 

Designing Homes for Older Adults

There’s a housing crisis looming for seniors. With baby boomers entering their retirement years at a rapid rate, most housing is not keeping up with their needs. Most older adults say they want to stay in their homes as they age, but most homes are not designed for older bodies that have a hard time with stairs, slippery shower surfaces or hard-to-turn door knobs. Read More …

Apple and The Future of Homebuilding

Apple announces HomeKit

Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi speaks about the Apple HomeKit at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

Can Apple influence the future of homebuilding? 

I’ve long been critical of SmartHome marketing hype, and I’ve not been a fan of using speech commands to control home devices, but a Forbes article last week got me thinking and inspired today’s posting. (See Here’s How Apple’s Siri Will Control Your House Under HomeKit Program.)

Apple Understands Accessibility

Homebuilders can learn a lot from Apple when it comes to making homes more accessible and easier to live in. For the most part builders still focus too much on what potential buyers can see in the model home, such as marble entries, granite countertops, textured walls with rounded corners, and Moën faucets with lever handles. They don’t focus enough on foundations, insulation, infrastructure, and design elements for aging-in-place, although this is starting to change. Read More …

How to Create a Safe and Stylish Home

How to Create a Safe and Stylish Home

With age comes wisdom, and thankfully, retirement. As you move from the hectic life of work and obligations to a home-centric life of leisure, you may need to take a look at the details of your home, particularly safety. Look to create a safer haven for you to age in, but don’t forget about style. There are several interior design tricks you can add to make sure you are protected without feeling like you’re restricted. Here are just a few areas to think about:  Read More …

101 MiniTrends in Health Care

Watch for Trends Ahead

This image is from MiniTrends, a book by John Vanston that I strongly endorse. I’ve known John for years and did consulting work for his company, Technology Futures. His book inspired the vision of Modern Health Talk, because it helped me see unfulfilled opportunity at the intersection of trends. (Click image to see book)

“What the Hell is happening to health care?”

“And is it an Opportunity or a Threat?”

Insights by Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk.

An awful lot has changed in just the last few years and even more will change in the near future, with the aim of reducing (or at least containing) our health care costs. What’s behind these MiniTrends, and what is their implication for providers, payers and consumers? That’s the $1.5 trillion question. Here I talk about many, many MiniTrends–surely you can find 101 of them if you look! 

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

That quote is important, because 429 of the original Fortune 500 companies [1955] are no longer in business today. That’s a scary thought for those sitting at the top of the healthcare mountain, because they know they must adapt to the megatrend of health reform and Obamacare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) or die. And they are looking down with fear at the hungry competitors who are already exploiting the many related minitrends, because for them these are times of great opportunity.

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Barbie’s Dream House for Aging in Place

Barbie as a senior

“The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you’ll grow out of it!” — Doris Day (image credit: Ya/sin’s photostream)

By Patrick Roden, RN, PhD (originally published in 2011)

A tweet from Kohler got me thinking: What do you think of Barbie’s new eco-friendly dream home from Mattel? We love the low-flow toilet!

Seems Barbie is trending green after years of Pink convertibles and end-less wardrobes; not exactly a sustainability lifestyle (making up for past sins?). The joint effort is a synergy of The AIA and Mattel, who have teamed up for the design competition in honor of “Architect Barbie,” the newest addition to the career-themed “I Can Be” series coming soon to a store near you. Read More …

The Future of Universal Design

Universal Design

This bathroom looks elegant but it also has all the elements for Aging in Place — a zero barrier shower threshold for walkers and wheelchairs, shower seat, hand-held shower, a foot bath with whirlpool jets and an attractive grab bar. (MTI Whirlpools)

By Guest Blogger Edward Steinfeld, ArchD, Professor of Architecture and Director of the IDeA Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, State University of New York at Buffalo. The Future of Universal Design was originally written for Disability.gov, which is included in our list of government websites.

From Accessibility to Inclusion

Universal design (UD) is an idea that developed in the mid-1990s as advocates of making buildings and products accessible to people with disabilities realized that these features often had benefits for a broader population. Examples include curb ramps, automated doors, closed captioning in television sets and accessibility features for computer operating systems. Read More …

Austin Requires New Homes to be Accessible

Austin city council passes accessibility,
ramp ordinances for new homes

Wheelchair Lady doing Laundry
AUSTIN, TX (1/30/2014) — After two years of working on an ordinance amendment, the Austin City Council passed changes Thursday that will require all new homes be more accessible and visitable to people with mobility disabilities.

The idea to require changes to make housing more accessible first came up inside City Hall back in 1998. That’s when Austin adopted the changes for homes built with city funds. The intention was that it would lead to an across the board policy, but that never came to be.

City staff and council members have spent the last two years working with stakeholders to draft an ordinance amendment.

After much debate, and several postponements, the council passed the ordinance amendment 6-1 with Mayor Lee Leffingwell voting against the measure. Read More …

Multi-generation Homes & Communities

Multi-generation HomesMulti-generational homes were common during the Great Depression but declined once people rebounded economically. Now, as John Graham, coauthor of Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living, observes, the recent recession has prompted a move back from valuing independence to interdependence.

Some 51 million Americans (16.7% of the population) live in a house with at least two adult generations, or a grandparent with at least one other generation, under one roof, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. The Pew analysis also reported a 10.5% increase in multi-generation households from 2007 to 2009. Now builders are responding with homes designed specifically for multi-generation homes, or that can be modified to support that option later.

Could this trend be a utopia of built-in child care, elder care, three square meals, and shared costs? Could it avoid isolation in old age? Read More …

Young Innovators and The Future of Healthcare

Brain InterfaceThis article is about the power of the Internet as a learning and research tool, and the role that young, Internet-savvy innovators are playing as they develop the future of healthcare

Easton LaChappelle

Easton, a 17-year old inventor, spoke recently at TEDxMileHigh about his 3D printing & animatronics project and the future of prosthetic & animatronic limbs. He started this work at age 14 and used the Internet to research and learn about electronics & sensor technologies, programming & modeling software, 3D printing & industrial design, and wireless networking. He’s now living in Houston and working at NASA on robotics projects. Read More …

Apple promotes Accessibility Apps

Deaf FaceTime blockedType on your touchscreen with braille. Hear what your camera sees. Learn to sign.

Apple products are already simple, intuitive, and easy to use. They also have accessibility features built in – for people with special needs. And with third party assistive technologies, Apple helps even more people do more in more ways. Learn about the company’s accessibility features in OS X (for Mac) and iOS (for iPhone, iPad & iPod touch).

This article highlights some of the third party apps that Apple is promoting and concludes with a short list of related articles on mHealthTalk.

Vision

BrailleTouch lets you type using braille right on your iPhone or iPod touch screen. Use a unique split keyboard based on the traditional six-key braille keyboard, and type text messages and email more quickly and accurately. Read More …

Mind control of helicopters now. What might be next?

Mind control of robot helicopterIn this amazing feat of engineering, a person’s thoughts are used to navigate a robot, which makes us wonder about other applications in the future.

Using a brain-computer interface developed by University of Minnesota biomedical engineering professor Bin He, several students learned to steer a robotic quadcopter with just their thoughts. As shown in the video, they navigated the craft around a gym, making it turn, rise, dip, and even sail through a ring.

Similar technology may someday allow disabled people to regain speech or mobility lost due to disease or injury. They may be able to control a variety of devices with just their thoughts, including lights, TV remotes, artificial limbs and wheelchairs. The solution is completely noninvasive: brain waves (EEG) are picked up by electrodes in a cap worn on the scalp, not requiring a chip implanted in the brain.

A more detailed report on the technology is available in the Journal of Neural Engineering, and the video is shown below. Read More …

TEK Robotic Mobilization Device

TEK Robotic Mobilization DeviceHere’s a wheelchair alternative that may eventually save on the cost of some of the more expensive home modifications such as widening doorways. It’s a new concept that will surely improve but already holds much promise.

According to its website, Tek RMD, provides the opportunity of movement for people with paraplegia by enabling them to independently stand up in a completely upright position with correct posture, facilitating their movement and comfortable completion of their daily tasks indoors, such as in the home, office and shopping mall. Tek RMD is not an alternative to wheelchairs, it is a totally new concept, a new platform. Read More …

How Seniors Learn Technology

Photo of elderly couple proudly showing off their new iPadToday’s neck-snapping pace of innovation threatens to leave older members of society on the outside looking in through the twilight of their lives.
But what can we do?

That was the sentiment of Get old, tune out: Is technology leaving the elderly in the dust? I stumbled upon this article and had to comment, because I thought it missed an important point. The article was written from the perspective of a 30-year-old after assisting his 60-some-year-old father-in-law and gives you insight into how younger people view seniors.

“These older folks lack the base-line understanding that people of my age (early 30s) received,” he said, and he was right. But it has less to do with basic understanding and more to do with how older people learn and adopt technology. Product designers, especially young ones, need to understand this lesson.

My response

All product designers should see www.mhealthtalk.com/2011/09/webcam-101/. It’s a short video of a cute elderly couple trying to use their new PC and includes a link to a related article presenting the Apple iPad as a much simpler solution. Using any new technology can be daunting because of how seniors learn, and that contrasts with how young kids, or adults who grew up with tech, learn. Read More …