Assistive Technology Supports Seniors to Live at Home Longer in North Dakota

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Many of us want or need to age in place. North Dakota Assistive provides equipment to do so safely.

A man using a pill box

Access to assistive technology (AT) devices that support seniors to age safely at home is proving more and more important — especially in North Dakota which the AT3 Center highlighted in a recent “Case Study.”

North Dakota’s population is aging at a rate that exceeds the national average. By 2030, it is projected that over 30% of North Dakota residents will be age 60 and older, and nearly 4% will be age 85 and older.

North Dakota (ND) Assistive (the state’s AT Program) helps seniors to stay safe in their homes through its Assistive Safety Device Distribution Service, also known as the Senior Safety program.

Essential AT To Seniors Who Need It Most

“Many seniors want to stay in their homes but are at risk of going into a nursing home or other long-term care facility due to aging-related disabilities,” explains Jeannie Krull, program director for ND Assistive. “Through our program, eligible North Dakota residents can receive assistive safety devices (up to $300 worth) that will help increase safety and independence, and often allows them to stay in their own homes longer.”

An Entry Point for More AT Services

An additional benefit to the Senior Safety program is how it can serve as an entry point for seniors who might benefit from other assistive technology services. In those cases, ND Assistive becomes a sort of “one-stop shop” for seniors and their families.

One recent example is when ND Assistive worked with an elderly person’s family to set up an emergency alert system they also learned the family planned to install a shower and ramp to address mobility issues but was not sure how to pay for it. ND Assistive referred them to low-interest loans, grants, and federal programs that could help cover those costs.

“We try to look beyond the immediate reason each person contacts us. We try to treat each person as a whole, which means listening and seeing other needs that we may be able to address.”

Jeannie Krull, Program Director, ND Assistive

Senior Safety Proves Cost Effective

Krull shares an example of how a modest investment in an assistive safety device can save North Dakota thousands of dollars.

“A while back, an elderly woman had been hospitalized because she overdosed on one of her medications. She was facing the prospect of going into a nursing home in order to prevent another accidental overdose. Her speech pathologist recommended that she apply to the Senior Safety program for a locked medication dispenser. That one simple $150 device allowed her to avoid nursing home placement. In fact, a decade later, she was still living in her apartment. Had she gone into the nursing home after her overdose, the cost of her care to the State would have been well over $750,000 at that time, and much higher in today’s dollars.”

“Everyone needs to know about assistive technology,” emphasizes Krull. “Almost every person on the planet will either know someone who needs AT, or they will need AT themselves at some point in their lives. The trick is to know about it before you need it, so that a more restrictive living arrangement—such as a nursing home—does not happen prematurely. That’s why knowing about the existence of programs, like North Dakota Assistive’s Senior Safety program, is so important!”

To learn more, including tips for establishing a Senior Safety Program in your State or Territory AT Program, check out the AT3 Center’s North Dakota Case Study – Senior Safety (PDF).

Find and learn about your State or Territory AT Program