This is an American term applied to retirement housing, which I have never fully understood. It tends to be associated with grab rails, hoists, Zimmer frames, mobility scooters and emergency call systems. That’s all good stuff but it doesn’t go even half way to providing the assistance many older people need in later life. Most everyday things that become problems may be only little issues individually, but their cumulative effect can be a debilitating reminder of how old you are getting.
A small amount of assistance could go a long way to keeping people more independent and create a host of new jobs for young people. Here are a few ideas to be going on with:-
- Childproof top safecracker assistant – to open all those pills you get from the chemist. The ones you haven’t taken as prescribed because you can’t open the plastic pill-box 😦
- Impossible package opener assistant – to remove all the hermetically sealed, vacuum packed, double shrink-wrapped plastic film used on almost everything. To keep it fresh for years to come or to ensure it is tamper-proof, even by the customers who bought it in the first place. Goodness knows how many injuries have happened when you take a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to your weekly shopping. I wonder if you can claim compensation for over-wrapped goods?
- Sealing resealable packages assistant – to put your cheese back into the packet – if you managed to open it in the first place.
- Jam jar and fruit can opening assistant – for those easy to open tops where all you have to do is press down with the strength of an Olympic weight lifter and the top just pops off. More old people need to take up weight-lifting otherwise marmalade sales will plummet.
(For other blogs about my trials with “Packaging” click on it in the TAG CLOUD).
It is not all about packaging. Here are some other everyday tasks where assistance might help:-
- TV Remote Control switching assistant – to master the three different TV controllers and two video thingy’s, oh and the sound bar operator widget. Also to navigate the 150 channels – most of which we never watch. There will, no doubt, be a £10 call out charge for this service and an extra charge by the hour if you have already pressed all the buttons and the TV has to be “reset again. There will also have to be a special emergency call out service, obviously costing a lot more if you need the assistant to arrive within 5 minutes – say for instance if the football is about to kick off or maybe your favourite detective programme is about to start and you don’t want to miss the beginning in case you don’t understand the plot for the next two hours 😦
- Finally, a reading assistant and gobbledygook translator – initially to read aloud the unreadable 10 point font that all newspapers have adopted these days. No wonder less and less people are buying daily newspapers. They could also speed read the news scrolling across the bottom on the screen on the 24-hour news channel or scrolling up the screen at breakneck speed, with the credits at the end of the film. The translator part of the job is not about a foreign language, it’s about the latest politically correct “buzzwords” and the computer geek language of “new speak”. The first is to ensure you are “on trend” whatever that means – using words like sustainable, counter-intuitive or even intuitive if you are talking about computers. The techy stuff is designed to ensure that only a few hundred people in the whole world understand how computers and the internet works. Everyone else either just pretends to understand or has given up trying. Bits and bytes and gigabytes seem to be important since you have to pay more for more of them. Band speed is also significant, which I think has something to do with how fast musicians play? I am not even going to talk about clouds, I gave up on them after learning about Cirrus, Cumulonimbus and Cumulo Stratus in A-level geography. Phishing is no longer fishing for fish, it’s now about phishing to catch people on-line. The tech jargon is never-ending, always trending and for older people, mind-bending.
So there will probably never be enough assistants to support older people in assisted living.
A better way would be to design products with the elderly in mind !
(See earlier posts on this subject by clicking on “Small Prints” and “Old Geek” in the TAG CLOUD).