I can honestly say I am a “jack of all trades” in the occupational therapy world. I am not an assistive technology guru or even have easy access to someone that is, since I live in a rural community. But I DO complete a lot of home assessments and make recommendations on home modifications.
I am going to review what to look for in matching a patient's needs with equipment, as well as get some ideas flowing on high-tech options, even if you are a "low-tech" OT.
So why do so many of us avoid high tech suggestions when we make recommendations for home modifications?
I know I did when I first started out in the world of OT. My first job was in home health (I know, I know, not ideal for a new grad 🙂 ) and I remember feeling that since I wasn't confident in making good high tech recommendations, I didn't want patient's and families to spend the money on the equipment. So I avoided it.
High-tech home modifications does not have to mean complicated or expensive (but it can!). It does not even have to mean using computer programs or software (that is why there are assistive technology specialists!). But what it does mean is using technology to promote independence.
Things to consider before recommending high tech home modifications:
- What are the patient's strengths and limitations?
- Best way to figure out needs is through a functional task analysis.
- What types of equipment is the patient familiar with?
- Do they use a smart phone?
- Are they even interested in using high-tech options in the home environment?
- One size does not fit all.
- What high tech home modification options are there and what will work for them?
- Are they capable of new learning?
- Is the recommendation a good match cognitively?
Matching the patient's needs with the appropriate equipment (either high or low tech) is the ultimate goal for optimal independence and occupational performance.
Ideas for High Tech Home Modifications
Alarms that flash, are extra loud and even shake a bed to alert of a smoke detector going off.
Phones with extra large buttons, flashing lights, pictures for easy phone use.
Touchless faucet for difficulties with turning it on.
Automatically turns off stove when activated by sound of fire alarm as there is always smoke before fire.
Motion sensitive toilet bowl night light.
Functioning within the home
Automatic door openers for the home.
Lights that turn on when you enter the room or off when no activity in the room.
Motion activated night lights if patient cannot sleep with night light on all night.
GPS tracker for wandering and safety.
Auto pill reminders or use Alexa to set alarms.
Vacuums the floor for you!
What are some high tech home modifications that you use and love?
If you need additional info on home modifications for bathing people with dementia, check out "Alzheimer's Bathing Battle Tips."