Around F.C.

How Technological Advancements Are Helping Local Senior Citizens

Let’s face it, technology can be confusing, especially for senior citizens. However, technological advancements are being made for people 55 and older; some of them making their lives easier, while others can save their lives altogether.

Nowadays, there are a variety of technological products for senior citizens to keep them active, as well as ensure safety. Whether it be a mobile scooter, a GPS shoe or an automatic walker, the City of Falls Church and surrounding areas are providing a variety of services, businesses and products for those who are older in age.

Bennet Helfgott is the owner and director of Mobility City in Alexandria. Helfgott stated the technological improvements for senior citizens has always “been there,” but rather there has been a lack of education for seniors to understand how this technology can “change their lives on a daily basis.”

Due to some senior citizens not knowing about the technological advancements being made for them, Helfgott said that “the minute they get into one of those technologically advanced scooters or wheelchairs,” their attitudes change and they often leave the store “with a smile on their face.”

The store offers mobile scooters and transport chairs, lift chairs, rollators and more, with Helfgott stating it’s a “rewarding feeling” to see senior citizens using and enjoying their new product.

“They’ll look at me and say ‘You just changed my life,’” said Helfgott.

As technology for helping senior citizens is growing, The Kensington Falls Church provides the Insight Memory Care Center, a non-profit adult day health and resource center providing specialized care, support and education for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory impairments. Along with this program is innovative technology provided to the patients and their caregivers.

One of these technological innovations recommended by Kensington is the GPS shoe, which can allow a senior citizen to locate help when lost or a caregiver to find a senior citizen suffering from a memory impairment.

Another resource the facility provides is the MedicAlert program partnered with Medical Guardian. Medical Guardian specializes in medical alert devices, which can be set up in one’s home, while they are “on-the-go” and on their mobile phones. If one is having a medical emergency, the push of a button can alert emergency services to respond to the incident. According to their website, 95 percent of customers surveyed said that Medical Guardian made “aging in place and maintaining independence easier.”

In Fairfax, two Chantilly High School seniors have designed an automatic walker that helps improve the mobility of people living with Parkinson’s Disease and senior citizens. Kaavya Karthikeyan and Akanksha Tibrewala were inspired to create their product “AutoTrem” after Tibrewala saw her great-grandmother suffer paralysis on one side of her body. She said it was “super difficult” for her great-grandmother to walk and “do simple tasks” like eating and sitting down.

AutoTrem was designed by two Chantilly High School students for patients with Parkinson’s Disease. (Photo Courtesy: Kathleen Miller)

Karthikeyan and Tibrewala focused the product on Parkinson’s patients and how it would give them the motivation to exercise. They both state that one of the main symptoms in Parkinson’s patients is the loss of motivation to do things, thus resulting in their muscles degenerating. If a patient is able to exercise, muscular strength can be restored.

“Our goal is to help [Parkinson’s patients] exercise and motivate them to have that safety net of an automatic walker,” said Karthikeyan.

AutoTrem allows patients to not have to push the walker to get around, but rather “walk with the walker.” There are safety features which ensure that patients will not run into something, such as an ultrasonic sensor. The walker has been tested at multiple rehab centers in the local area, with Tibrewala stating that the people using the walker were “impressed by the features that it had” and were “encouraging about the walker” when it made exercising for them “easier and more fun.”

John Bagely, the Interim Director at The View Alexandria by Goodwin Living, said two of their campuses recently completed an upgrade to their health security system that features a motion sensor in independent resident apartments that triggers a daily check-in.

This new upgrade has helped both campuses ensure their residents’ safety as well as provide “psychosocial comfort” to residents who are ensured someone will check in on them if an emergency arises.