Older person using cell phone.
July 17, 2023

Aging and Assistive Technology

By Colleen Scott, NYSOFA Advocacy Specialist

What is assistive technology and how can it help you?

Assistive technology (AT) is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities. 

Many older adults do not identify as having a disability; however, as a result of the aging process, most of us acquire some type of disability over time. For example, if you wear eyeglasses, you have a disability which is mitigated by the equipment (eyeglasses).


Some examples of assistive technology include:

  • Smart watch
  • Personal emergency remote system
  • Remotes with enlarged buttons
  • Captioned telephones
  • Automatic pill dispensers


How can Assistive Technology help you?

There are two types of Assistive Technology: low tech and high tech. An example of low tech AT is a buttoning aid hook. This tool is a simple hook and wire design with comfortable grip that allows the user to button blouses, jackets and pants easily, using only one hand. This device is helpful for older adults with arthritis, fine motor impairment or reduced dexterity.

An example of high tech AT is a video remote doorbell, such as the Ring doorbell. This device allows an older adult to see who is at the door and communicate with the person without getting up. It can help an older person screen visitors and stay safe when home alone.

Durable Medical Equipment (DME) is another type of AT that older adults often need. DME can withstand repeated use, is primarily and customarily used to serve a medical purpose, generally is not useful to a person in the absence of an illness or injury, and is appropriate for use in the home. All requirements of the definition must be met before an item can be considered DME.


Some examples of durable medical equipment include:

  • Walkers
  • Wheelchairs
  • Canes
  • Commode
  • Grab bars
  • Seat swivel


How can Durable Medical Equipment help you?

Depending on the challenge you are experiencing, there are many options that may help. Memory issues may cause an individual to misplace certain items. In this case, an Object Locator and Beeping Key Finder (a digital tracker for small household items) can be useful, especially for those in the early stages of dementia. For vision challenges, such as macular degeneration, a Lighted Full Page Reading Magnifier can make reading easier and enjoyable again. 

Some older adults may experience obstacles accessing technology. These obstacles can include the expense of internet service for connecting to health care providers, family members, and various programs.

The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.



The Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (TRAID) Program provides access to assistive technology to any New Yorker with a disability through Regional TRAID Centers. Regional TRAID Centers provide device loans and hands-on training to people with disabilities.

The Equipment Loan Fund allows you to borrow up to $4,000, with an interest rate of 4%, and can be used to purchase wheelchairs, wheelchair van lifts, ramps, and adaptive equipment. Other resources may include county/town offices, Lions or Elks Clubs, and other local civic organizations.