Acute shortages of home health aides and nursing assistants are cropping up across the country.
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Last year's list of tech gifts that keep on giving is still pretty accurate in terms of categories -- eReaders and eBooks, video communication devices, game-related and music-related. But be thankful, tech time marches on, and there are more variants of each, plus some new items to consider -- if you're in aging services or senior housing, pass some ideas along to residents or clients:
Computers and social connection. Telikin computer for seniors - which bills itself as the 'world's easiest computer' to use. Don't know about that, depends on what you mean by computer and whether tablets count. But it is an all-in-one device -- screen, computer, software -- tailored for seniors. If they already have a computer, consider getting them an inexpensive web camera for Skype (which has its own gadget catalog), a subscription to software that could make it more amenable: InTouchLink, PointerWare, or VitalLink -- or Apple FaceTime. Meanwhile, Netbooks (Acer or Asus) are cheap and highly functional -- more than tablets at the moment.
Readers. Kindle has a $79 version and a $99 touch version appropriate for those used to typing on 'soft' keyboards, versus actual keys (although the latter can be extremely irritating for the shaky-of-hand.) Add a gift certificate for Amazon eBooks to use up the money saved. While you're thinking about books, consider subscribing to Readeo for reading/sharing children's books online or a recording of a grandparent reading a book. Finally, Amazon has just adding a lending library for Amazon Prime Kindle owners and local libraries are lending eBooks -- both would be free. And visual aid magnifiers and other tech for those with low vision are possibilities.
Phone/hearing -- and listening. A video phone -- who knew there were so many? Grandstream has a number of models. And while we're at the phone thing, if they are hard of hearing, there's Hamilton CapTel -- captioned telephones with free captioning services (multiple phone types possible.) And while we're at that hearing topic, there's TV Ears to enhance/enable the TV-listening experience. And GreatCall has added the 5Star Urgent Response app and new wearable device/service. New in 2011 -- CoroHealth launched a new category -- 'therapeutic audio solutions' that include music and spiritual content, with a specialized device -- or through the Internet. And the iPod -- especially with a family member's pre-recorded music -- is a winner.
Services - PERS and personal. Is it time for a transportation alternative to driving a car? Learn more at ITN America -- or what's up for seniors and driving from AAA. Or contact San Francisco's SilverRide (which accompanies seniors to concerts and now offers drives to the airport) and help them expand to other regions. Meanwhile, the PERS world has both the Mobile (Mobile Help and Active Care) and traditional PERS (Lifesation.com) and with fall detection from Philips. In the passive monitoring realm, GrandCare's HomeBase and Care Innovations Connect link in telehealth devices to monitor wellbeing of individuals with chronic disease.
You're wondering about tablets like the iPad or Kindle Fire, smart phones, gaming beyond the Wii and Internet TV apps for older seniors? Not just yet. Let's wait to see what's new for next year until after CES and Silver Summit in January 2012.
Additional ideas are welcome!