Assistive Technology – Can You Benefit?

Do you need a little more help to do some of the many things you used to do easily?

Are there tasks that you still want to accomplish on your own but just can’t quite do them?

Help is on the way in the form of assistive technology.

A variety of adaptive devices can help you maintain your independence for as long as possible allowing you to “age in place” without moving to the next level of care too quickly.

There are several different categories of assistive devices that can make a difference from a simple walker to an amplification system for the phone.

  • Home-construction in your home such as building ramps; installing grab bars or reconfiguring doorways to help overcome barriers or recover from an injury, anything to allow you to remain independent in your home
  • Daily activity-devices that help with tasks of daily living such as bathing, eating, grooming, holding, reaching, or toileting. The goal is to remain independent for as long as possible.
  • Mobility-electric wheelchair, walker, cane, wheelchair lift or stair elevator and any device/equipment that allows you to move about safely and independently
  • Communication-telephone amplifiers, hearing aids, auditory receivers, computer devices, alert systems and any device that allows you to send or receive information
  • Sensory enhancements for those with vision or hearing impairments-devices that allow you to engage in your environment such as television captioning, large print documents/books, voice activated devices, bed shaking alarms, magnification, time, travel, writing and reading in Braille and lighted doorbells
  • Therapy-access to all types of therapists to help you recover or regain optimum physical functioning as well as orthotic devices to help you control limbs and joints or amputation sites
  • Switches-allow you to turn on, off or adjust equipment such as air conditioners, computers, lights or answering machines; these can be voice activated or mouth activated

Carefully determine what you need before you purchase any device as most insurance companies and Medicare will not cover these devices unless they are determined to be durable medical equipment (necessary only for those who have an illness or injury and serve a medical purpose).

If you are a veteran, you may be able to receive adaptive devices from VA services. Another source of help is your local area agency for aging services that can often assist you with low-cost equipment.

Ask yourself if this device will help you continue to be independent. Seek the advice of your doctor, medical team, therapist, audiologist or family members. As more older Americans and their families try to remain in their home setting as long as possible, the use of assistive technology can make all the difference.

Health Care Reform Highlights

President Obama has signed into law a healthcare reform bill that created both controversy and confusion among lawmakers and citizens.

It promises to provide healthcare to all citizens by 2014 as well as a myriad of other amendments.

Many seniors worry what the outcome of this legislation will be on their current Medicare coverage as well as how this might raise the cost of their out of pocket expenses for healthcare on fixed incomes.

Highlights

  1. Close the hole in Medicare prescription drug plan by 2020. Seniors who hit the donut hole by 2010 will receive a $250 rebate.
  2. Government funding to Medicare Advantage private insurers will be cut $132 billion over 10 years which might mean the loss of additional services from these policyholders not available through current Medicare coverage.
  3. Medicare will begin covering annual Wellness visits not currently included.
  4. Beginning in 2011, seniors in the gap will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs. The bill also includes $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade.
  5. The creation of a national insurance trust for long-term care insurance, known as the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act.
  6. Eliminates insurance companies’ ability to refuse coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
  7. Provide access to insurance coverage for all uninsured Americans estimated at 32 million currently.  It will fine anyone not opting to enroll in a healthcare plan $695.
  8. Fine large companies $2,000 per employee for not providing healthcare coverage.
  9. Mandate that restaurants or vending machine operations with 20 or more locations provide nutrition information on menu boards, drive through lanes and printed menus and any other nutrition information requested by consumers.
  10. Adult children up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ insurance policy.

 We will all have to wait and see what these sweeping changes will mean to our health, well being and pocketbooks.