Unique website answers seniors' questions about technology

Human and Social Development

Seniors will benefit from learning about technologies and devices that help with their quality of life and independence.

Seniors across BC, as well as the people who care for them, have access to a new resource that lets them ask questions and receive personalized answers about technology and equipment available in the marketplace that can increase their independence and well-being. 

Looking for a device to support your arthritic elbow while you play tennis? A solution for someone who regularly misplaces his or her keys? Cutlery that’s easier to use for someone who is experiencing weakness or tremors? 

Ability411.ca—created and operated by CanAssist at the University of Victoria and the only website of its kind in Canada—provides practical information about a wide range of solutions for seniors. 

“There have been some amazing advancements in technology that can make a difference in supporting seniors to live at home for as long as possible,” said Anne Kang, the BC government’s parliamentary secretary for seniors. “Ability411 helps seniors and their families learn about the tools and equipment available to help them in day-to-day life, so they can remain active, independent and connected to their communities.” 

CanAssist Executive Director Robin Syme said the website’s content will expand over time as more people ask questions. “Visitors who submit questions to Ability411 remain completely anonymous, but their queries and the resulting answers may be included in the website’s growing database of Q&As, so that all visitors can benefit from this information,” Syme said. 

People can browse topics such as communication and computers, walking aids, fitness and sports, memory and planning, managing medications, reading and office supplies, meal preparation, house work and others for answers to common questions, as well as submit a question of their own. 

“Seniors and their caregivers need to have the latest information about the technologies that could make their lives more comfortable and increase their independence,” said BC Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie. “Ability411 will keep seniors safer, while helping those who care for them.” 

Ability411 is funded through a multi-year CanAssist initiative called CanStayHome, which involves developing innovative technologies and services that enable BC seniors to remain living at home for as long as safely possible. 

Ability411 does not provide medical advice; nor does it advise visitors of the best technology to buy. Rather, the site provides a selection of possible commercial solutions for people to explore. Answers are reviewed by the BC chapter of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists. 

Visitors who ask questions related to medical conditions or symptoms are referred to HealthLink BC, the Ministry of Health’s 24-hour, toll-free health line at 8-1-1. Throughout the website’s development, CanAssist worked with HealthLink BC and UVic to ensure Ability411 adheres to rigorous technological, security and privacy protocols. 

Over time, if Ability411 proves beneficial to seniors, CanAssist hopes to expand the service to address the technology and equipment needs of British Columbians of all ages. 

CanAssist helps people with disabilities improve their independence and quality of life by developing innovative technologies and programs where there are gaps in existing services. CanAssist’s team works with the exceptional students and faculty at UVic, along with many partners in the wider community. CanAssist’s vision—“A society where all people have the opportunity to participate, contribute and reach their full potential”—supports BC’s accessibility goals for people with disabilities.

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Media contacts

Robin Syme (CanAssist Executive Director) at 250-721-7123 or rsyme@uvic.ca

Anne Tolson (CanAssist Communications Manager) at 250-721-8730 or atolson@uvic.ca

In this story

Keywords: CanAssist, aging, community, dementia, diet, exercise, health, nursing

People: Robin Syme

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