As family caregivers, we may feel strongly certain technology is just what our senior loved ones need to make their homes safer or healthier places for them to live — or maybe simply more enjoyable — but realize that will happen only if the technology is used.
How often do we give our loved ones yet another gift like a sweater or coffee mug only to have it set aside in a drawer, we suspect, only to have it pulled out when we visit?
We don’t want the same to happen when we give them a technology gift that could make a real difference in their lives. How do we avoid that?
Of course, it may not be a gift, since family caregivers are often the purchasers of technology for their senior loved ones.
If only there was a way we could introduce seniors to technology and let them spend a little hands-on time before a purchase decision was made. Trying before buying can give us confidence what we buy will provide benefits.
Sure, we can do that in some retail stores, but being surrounded by shoppers and “helpful” sales reps is not the best environment for testing.
That’s why we were thrilled to learn about local senior technology centers, which are in many communities, and invited to tour the Cobb County Assistive Technology Lab in Marietta, Georgia.
Assistive Technology Lab
We met Felicia Alingu, Outcomes Program Specialist with Cobb Senior Services, at Aging in America and were very impressed to hear about their Assistive Technology Lab (AT Lab). When she invited us to tour the facility, we jumped at the chance.
The Cobb AT Lab has several rooms, each with tech devices designed for a specific area of the house, including the family room, kitchen, and bathroom. We captured some if it in the pictures below.
In the AT Lab, seniors and caregivers can browse the different devices and learn how they work. They have created a nice atmosphere to experience how the tech works and how it might fit into the visitors’ homes — a great opportunity to try before you buy!
Not only were we impressed by the lab itself, but also learning from Felicia of the outreach, classes, and other activities available to seniors. While we are discussing the Assistive Technology Lab as an example of facilities around the nation, we plan to interview Felicia about their work for an upcoming edition of the Senior Care Corner® podcast.
Is There Something Similar Near Your Senior?
Yes, we realize most of you reading this don’t live in Cobb County, Georgia. With a little research, though, we found similar opportunities in communities across the US. Check with local senior agencies to learn if there is one nearby your senior and check it out yourself.
While you are in touch with a local senior organization, you might want to find out what other programs and benefits are available to your senior loved one. You just might find something they could use or an activity they would enjoy but is completely unknown to them.
Supporting Local Tech Demo Facilities
After seeing what the Cobb AT Lab is doing and what it can mean to seniors and family caregivers, we want make a pitch to those in a position to support them. Given the limited funding available to most community organizations and the cost of assistive and smart home technology, keeping facilities like the AT Lab up to date and relevant for seniors is difficult.
If you are with a tech company or retailer, we hope you see this as the opportunity it is to familiarize a new market segment with technology and what it can mean to their lives. Supporting the mission of these facilities with donations of money or products can — in addition to making a positive difference in communities — provide benefits through the education of a new group of consumers.
Please help them in their mission to help seniors and family caregivers!