Don't get me wrong, Summer is great. I'm loving the intermittent heatwaves we're getting this year, spontaneous days out to the beach, being able to leave the house in just a t-shirt and shorts without the fear of rain.
However, it won't last forever, and as we anticipate Winter, spare a thought for your elderly friends and relatives.
Winter loneliness and isolation can become a threat to the elderly, with families often absorbed in Christmas festivities. Technology is an essential connection to the outside world during months when the elderly are vulnerable to cold weather which brings with it illness, slips, trips and falls. Here’s a guide to the assistive technology available to improve the comfort of your loved ones this winter.
1. Large button phones
Deteriorating visibility affects most of us eventually, so large button phones can be helpful to all ages, also providing ease of dexterity in arthritis sufferers. For extra assistance there’s the option of backlit keys for night-time calls.
2. Emergency phones
These phones come with a remote control device, often in the form of a wrist pendant. Should your loved one fall over, for example, they can press the button and one of five pre-saved numbers will be called until contact is made.
3. Amplified phones
For those whose primary concern is hearing loss, there are amplified phones such as the Amplicom PowerTel 60 Plus Telephone. Its key feature is being especially loud and clear, with amplification of the receiver volume reaching +60 dB. Providing high quality audio via the handset and speakerphone, it comes with adjustable volume to suit individual needs.
4. Hearing aid compatible phones
Not to be confused with amplified phones, these have an induction loop in the handset that connects to a hearing aid when it is in its ‘T’ setting or telecoil programme. In short, it means the phone is not providing the volume/amplification but rather the hearing aid at whatever level has been programmed for the individual and their hearing loss levels.
6. Panic button phones
Mobiles like the Doro PhoneEasy 621 Black Big Button Mobile allow you to answer a phone call by simply opening up the mobile and to end a call by closing it. The menu also includes an emergency function; type in your name, date of birth, height, weight, any medical problems or allergies and emergency services will be in the best position to help if necessary.
7. Corded vs. cordless telephones
For the elderly able to move around with ease, convenience may dictate a corded phone. If they suffer memory loss, it would leave no doubt regarding where they last saw it. If your loved one has limited mobility a cordless phone can dramatically increase their sense of connection to the outside world, ensuring communication with family and friends without the discomfort and risk of moving across a room unaided.
8. Call blocking
Incessant cold calls are the bane of our lives and may especially inconvenience the elderly who struggle to reach the telephone. A call blocking device or phone with built in barring system will protect elderly or vulnerable individuals from preying salespeople, ensuring they only speak with those they want to. The BT 8500 Cordless DECT Call Blocking Phone ensures the blocking of withheld numbers, international numbers and any specific numbers. It also comes with a ''Do Not Disturb'' mode to ensure peace and quiet.
Gone are the days of misplacing the phone book. The BT 8500 Cordless DECT Call Blocking Phone comes with a 200 name and number phonebook allowing you to store all of your contacts in one place. If your loved one is wary of technology, you can even set everything up from your own home. Is your father having trouble adding numbers to his phone directory? With the Doro PhoneEasy 622 Black Big Button Mobile you can add the contacts to his mobile through a website which transfers them without needing to have the mobile in front of you.
For the technologically savvy, inventions such as the Facetime app have changed the way we communicate forever. Similar to using a webcam, call your contacts and speak face to face in a matter of moments. Weather too treacherous to drive? No problem, catch up from the comfort of your own home.
By making a few simple choices it's easier than ever to keep vigilance over loved ones this winter, enriching communications with a reassurance that you're here to talk.
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