Aging is strongly associated with mobility limitations, as 20% of people report having difficulty when moving around after age 65, and this proportion increases to 60% after the age of 85. Mobility limitation affects not only walking and traveling, but also activities like self-care that require some agility to step in and out of the bathtub or when squatting. To offset these difficulties, assistive technologies are used - such as a walker, a wheelchair or special equipment installed in the bathroom - often in combination with the help of a family caregiver to allow the person to remain at home.
Access to rehabilitation professionals to select equipment or to obtain some advice on how to use these equipments may require waiting up to several months, which may increase the risk of falls or decline in function. This research program addresses this gap by providing new technologies that support older adults at two key moments, namely 1) guidance when selecting a new assistive technology 2) support and training through remote advice to caregivers and older adults after the acquisition of a new assistive technology. One project will develop an application for the older person herself, available on mobile device and computer, to guide in the selection of specialized equipment for bathing and toileting.
Two other projects will study how to provide remote support by rehabilitation professionals - using automated calls, text messages, video conferencing, automated uploading of step-by-step videos, mobile applications- towards users and caregivers of seniors after acquisition of a new mobility aid.