When you think about mobility scooters, wheelchair conversion vans, medical alert systems and other products that are designed for and marketed to older adults, chances are that you conjure up specific images of devices that look clinical and decidedly uncool. Luckily times are changing. The Silver Tsunami is flooding the market with Baby Boomers who are turning 65 at a rate of 8,000 people per day. This demographic shift has created a demand for more solutions to mobility and accessibility challenges that are an inevitable part of aging. Designers have responded by creating products that are innovative in both form and function and utilize the latest in technology.
Take for example, mobility scooters. Not only are mobility scooters more lightweight and portable than ever before, now they also come in edgy, motorcycle inspired designs. This isn’t your grandma’s scooter; well, actually, it could be, especially if she wants to make a statement and have some fun while cruising around town.
The Pride Sport Rider 3-Wheel Scooter features motorcycle style handlebars and large tires with sporty rims. A large front headlight and spacious captain’s chair also help make it feel more like a motorcycle than a traditional mobility scooter. It also doesn’t hurt that this scooter can reach a top speed of 9.4 miles per hour. This model proves that mobility devices don’t have to be slow, boring, and only concerned with function.
Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Another innovation in mobility technology represents a decided move away from traditional wheelchair accessible vans. Let’s face it; not everyone wants to have to drive around in a van. For years, wheelchair users were limited to conversion vans to help them travel. Now, you can choose from a variety of converted trucks and SUVs. Honda Elements, Scions, PT Cruisers, Escalades, GMC trucks and a variety of other vehicles can now be adjusted and equipped with heavy duty hydraulic lifts that allow wheelchair users to operate the vehicle or ride along as a passenger.
Medical Alert and Home Monitoring Systems
Finally, technology has had perhaps the biggest influence on medical alert systems. In the past, seniors would have to wear clunky necklaces with an emergency button that could be pressed in order to signal distress. Today’s systems are a lot more sophisticated and unobtrusive. Older systems worked only if there wearer was able to press the button. Today’s systems utilize a combination of sensors and communication devices that help track movement and habits. This means that you can be notified if your loved one hasn’t gotten out of bed, if they left home at a strange hour, or if they haven’t taken their medicine. This type of monitoring is ideal for children who live far away from their aging parents or for seniors who want to remain as independent as possible.
Today’s monitoring systems also help collect and organize data that can help track health patterns and provide valuable information during doctor’s visits. Many services include television screens so that family members can easily communicate face to face. This helps with isolation and allows far-flung families to stay in touch and be proactive about health and aging issues. In today’s wired world, sounding an alarm is just one small capability of more comprehensive medical alert services that are extremely affordable, especially when compared to alternatives like hiring a home health aide.
Here are just a two examples of the difference brands and companies that are available:
The point is that growing old just isn’t what is used to be. I don’t know if 70 is really the new 50, but there is a lot of evidence out there on the market that proves that companies are starting to pay attentions to the wants and needs of consumers. Mobility and accessibility equipment is taking on a whole new look that is sporty and reflects the vibrant lifestyle that seniors are living. Best of all, these devices and products are enabling more seniors to preserve their independence.
Amy M. Blitchok is a professional writer and researcher who specializes in issues relating to seniors, aging in place and mobility technology. She works to disseminate important information that will help everyone live a longer healthier life and age comfortably and gracefully. Currently, she writes for AmeriGlide.com and contributes to several major industry related blogs and websites.