Caring Currents

A Brave New World for the Old

Last updated:

March 18, 2008

Technology-in-aging guru Susan Ayers Walker's website, The SmartSilvers Alliance , highlights all kinds of gadgets aimed at the “aging in place” generation -- that’s the vast majority of our parents, those who’ve decided to tough it out in their own homes rather than move into retirement communities.

It’s a whole new world out there , full of robots that will clean your parents’ houses and sensors that send warnings to your computer if they slip and fall , leave the stove on, or even just vary from their usual routine. Many of the new gadgets aimed at seniors have the word "dignity" somewhere in the title or product description.

And there’s the rub -- manufacturers promise that these devices will help our parents hold on to their independence and dignity as long as possible, but when I think about my own 87-old-father, I know his own sense of personal dignity, or pride, is what keeps him from using just about anything that has the word "senior" associated with it.

Take the Electric Powered Up-easy , a portable lifting device that gives elders with arthritis or other mobility issues a little boost getting out of their chairs. I wish I could order one and bring it by my dad’s house but I know what he’d do with it -- hand it right back to me, or stuff it in the closet, never to be seen again.

I’d love to hear from any of you who’ve faced this same issue -- wanting to help make your parents’ home safer and more comfortable as they get older, but running up against issues of pride or denial. Ever tried getting your parents to wear a bracelet or pendant that activates a Personal Emergency Response System ? Did you get the brush-off?

Even better, can anyone share a success story about ways you approached your parent about this issue that actually worked?

Photo courtesy of IRobot.