Are Advanced Devices Right For Me?

Due to the rapid advances in technology, and the inherent difficulty in understanding their written directions, seniors must carefully evaluate their needs before deciding to purchase any assistive technology. Using assistive technology may change the mix of services that a senior requires or may affect the way that those services are provided. For this reason, the process of needs assessment and planning is important.

Usually, needs assessment has the most value when it is done by a team working with the senior in the place where the assistive technology will be used. For example, an elderly person who has trouble communicating or is hard of hearing should consult with his or her doctor, an audiologist, a speech-language therapist, and family and friends. Together, these people can identify the problem precisely and determine a course of action to solve the problem.

By performing the needs assessment, defining goals, and determining what would help the senior communicate more easily in the home, the team can decide what assistive technology tools are appropriate. After that, the team can help select the most effective devices available at the lowest cost. A professional auditory specialist can also arrange for any training that the senior and his or her family may require to use the equipment.

Whether you are conducting a needs assessment or trying to make a decision after such an assessment, it is always a good idea to ask the following questions about assistive advanced devices and technology:

  • Does a more advanced device meet more than one of my needs?
  • Does the manufacturer of the assistive technology have a preview policy that will let me try out a device and return it for credit if it does not work as expected?
  • How are my needs likely to change over the next six months? How about over the next six years or longer?
  • How up-to-date is this piece of assistive equipment? Is it likely to become obsolete in the immediate future?
  • What are the tasks that I need help with, and how often do I need help with these tasks?
  • What types of assistive technology are available to meet my needs?
  • What, if any, types of assistive technology have I used before, and how did that equipment work?
  • What type of assistive technology will give me the greatest personal independence?
  • Will I always need help with this task? If so, can I adjust this device and continue to use it as my condition
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