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HAPI Home Adaptations For Independence

HAFI-banner3The Home Adaptations for Independence (HAFI) program provides financial assistance to help eligible low-income seniors and people with disabilities in British Columbia to continue to live in the comfort of their home. As your physical needs change, so too does the need to modify your home environment. Adapting a home improves accessibility and promotes safe and independent living.

Even small home adaptations can make a big difference in the lives of people who wish to remain in their homes longer. If you or a member of your family is having difficulty performing day-to-day activities independently and safely – the HAFI program may be able to help.

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Dan Levitt: Technology Can Keep Seniors Safe

by Dan Levitt

Technology PostNew entrants include health care monitoring companies such as Tapestry, a tablet app that lets seniors connect with family far away; MedCoach, a medication reminder app; and HealthSpot, a primary care service that lets doctors meet virtually with patients.

Rose is an 80-year-old with congestive heart failure and diabetes. She is able to safely live independently at home thanks to sensor technology that monitors changes in her health status, reducing the visits to the doctor’s office. Data recorded from the sensors alert her family and care team when support is needed. All of the sensors work together without Rose needing to do anything to activate them.

When she wakes up, a signal is sent from her bed’s pressure sensor to a personalized health assessment program via Wi-Fi. She then walks down the hallway, where sensors in the wall near the floor measure her gait and assess risk of falling. As she brushes her teeth, sensors in the bathroom floor monitor pressure points in her feet, measure her weight and detect early signs of skin breakdown and ulcers. A patch on her arm monitors biometric indicators such as blood pressure, glucose level, blood oxygen concentration, and heart rate. A medication reminder system alerts her when it is time to take her morning pills, including her diuretic capsule which has a tiny sensor that communicates with her arm patch to confirm she has taken her medication.

The signals from all the sensors are tied into an electronic personal health record that she can monitor, as well as her daughter and health-care team. If any of the health-measurements signals fall outside the predetermined acceptable range for Rose, the data is sent to her physician and her daughter for followup. At the same time, alerts are sent to her smartphone and computer monitor for changes to medication and to watch salt intake. This technology will enable seniors to live independently, receiving more personalized care from their care team and living healthier lives on their own.

The gerontechnology sector has introduced a number of very exciting developments. Shoes and insoles with GPS built into them provide peace of mind to family members taking care of relatives with Alzheimer’s disease. With a downloadable app, they can track them using the GPS or get an alert if the person wanders out of a pre-set safe zone. In a traditional nursing home, the building is secure with door alarms that are set off when a resident who is known to be at risk of wandering approaches the exit. Why should someone who has always run, walked and travelled no longer be able to do so, just because they are living in an institution? When the resident sets off the alarm, it only escalates behaviours, sometimes to catastrophic proportions. These GPS shoes are a game changer, reducing risk and improving safety without compromising privacy. These shoes  will also have the ability to detect slight changes in gait and alert a caregiver or health-care provider so that rapid assessments (for example, by an occupational or physical therapist) can be made to ensure safety and prevent falls.

Given that hip fractures are a strong determinant of subsequent mortality, this initiative has enormous potential for the aging population. Some technology companies equip their developers with an empathy suit named Agnes (Age Gain Now Empathy Suit), which looks a bit like a spacesuit with built-in pathologies such as spinal compression, vision loss, hearing impairments, and physical immobility, so your generations can design applications with these health deficits in mind. This could allow for seniors to stay in their own homes for as long as possible before transitioning into long-term care. These technologies, if widely adopted, have the potential to substantially reduce unnecessary seniors’ hospital emergency room visits and diminish length of stays in alternate level of care. There is a business case to reduce hospitalization of seniors, unclogging the acute-care patient flow system while saving health-care costs by making remote patient monitoring available.

Technological applications in the home have come a long way in the past 25 years when a small medical device called Life Call was first introduced in a television commercial where a 74-year-old actress named Edith Fore was seen lying on the floor of her living room yelling seven now famous words “I’ve fallen and I can’t  get up.” Now, many generations of technology later, a camera sees the room and can tell when the senior has fallen and sends an immediate response without the person needing to yell for help or press a panic button.

Basic sensor technology kits are available for seniors to install in their homes using wireless applications, with a wearable alert button that is easy to set up. Starter packages can be purchased at most home hardware stores and can be added on with И la carte options. These wireless hubs provide 24/7 monitoring, automatically sending alerts to family caregivers and enabling seniors to age in place. I also allows them to be independent as long as possible, delaying nursing home admission.

In Billy Crystal’s book Still Foolin’ ’Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? the nine-time Oscar host and now senior finds his keys 269 pages later, concluding his memoir with “I found my keys.” If he had used a waterproof GPS keychain sensor with medical alert mobile button, the City Slicker actor might never lose his keys again.

The next wave of innovation may come from research networks in technology to improve the lives of an aging population. AGE-WELL (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long  Life), is a national hub that earlier this year received a federal grant of $36.6 million over five years. Harnessing advanced information & communication technologies, sensor networks and robotics will create innovative and sustainable products and services for seniors and their caregivers. One of the challenges will be to overcome the ethical, social and cultural barriers to realizing the full benefits of this technology.


While the robots with artificial intelligence attract the imagination of forward-thinking computer scientists, no technology can replace human interactions. We don’t need a social psychologist to tell us that family and friends who are connected and concerned about a senior’s wellbeing stretch out independence, redefining our perception of old age. The technology is out there. We just need to apply it to seniors’ settings, thereby supporting independence, creating connections, and providing piece of mind. As gerontechnology becomes more available, the quality of life improvements will have groundbreaking impacts into the later stages of aging.

As B.C. population ages, the number of seniors heading for long-term care is increasing and thats led to a booming business for operators.

Those aged 65 and older make up about 15 per cent of B.C. population, but the number of seniors over the age of 85 is growing more than three times faster than the rest of the senior population. Most people over the age of 65 will need long-term care at some point in their lives, from home care to independent or assisted living, to residential care. While those who end up in residential care are a small fraction of the population, its a huge business.

CBC News Vancouver, along with Business in Vancouver, take a look at the business behind caring for B.C. seniors, the companies that make their money caring for the elderly and why the system needs them.

Click the following link for information and videos.

Many seniors live with disabilities.

It is very important that accommodations be made to encourage their participation in community activities.

Disabilities range from mild to severe and include physical handicaps, blindness, partial sight, deafness, hearing problems, language and communication difficulties. It is the way people with disabilities are perceived that causes the social distancing and poses the gravest threats to their rights as human beings. Inclusion of seniors with disabilities will strengthen the entire community and develop our capacity to deal with challenges.


by Sally Rogow

Seniors with disabilities are too often judged by the extent of their disabilities… and their personhood is ignored. It is important to make sure that the right kinds of supports are available, in order to enable their inabilities to participate and contribute in community events.

We hope that these suggestions will sensitize the community to be more cognizant of our seniors with disabilities. In this way we can enable our seniors to be at and participate in all of our community events.

People with Neurological and/or intellectual disablities:-

  • Sensitive communication is essential
  • People need to feel that they have some control over their environment and can influence events.
  • People who cannot speak or speak with difficulty often understand more than their verbal abilities indicate.

People with vision problems need:-

  • Special aids such as:
  • Large print books
  • Calendars and menus in large print and in Braille
  • Books on tape
  • Magnifiers
  • Watches
  • Telephones
  • Aids for independent mobility


Hearing persons with speech disorders need to be spoken to:-


  • Look at the person when speaking
  • Speak to them directly
  • Speak slowly and use simple sentences
  • Use pictures and illustrated guides


People with hearing problems need:-


  • Hearing devices
  • Sign language
  • Interpretation at community events
  • Sign language classes for people who are interested


People with physical disabilities need:-


  • Access to elevators,
  • Easy access to rest rooms that have enough space to accommodate wheelchairs
  • Transportation
  • Seating arrangements at community events

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