Technology, broadly defined as “the application of knowledge to the practical aims of human
life or to changing and manipulating the human environment.
Technology includes the use of materials, tools, techniques, and sources of power to make life
easier or more pleasant” (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, 2010), plays a vital role in the lives of disabled and older Americans. Technology can
potentially improve the quality of life of older Americans, and for those in need of long-term
care, can potentially improve the efficiency of care delivery while increasing the quality of
There are disparities, however, between technologies that are available to society in
general and those that are available specifically for older adults in long-term care settings.
Although the roughly 2 million older Americans living in nursing homes and other residential
care settings represent a minority of older persons, they constitute a group of interest for
the development of technological applications for three reasons.
- First, public programs such as Medicaid and Medicare finance a substantial proportion of their care.
In 2006, for example, nearly $178 billion was spent on nursing home care.
- Second, the state and federal government share responsibility for the oversight of quality of care provided
in nursing homes.
- Third, nearly all persons in residential care settings have physical or cognitive limitations that
result in disabilities.
To begin to address these disparities, the Department of Health and Human Services has funded Polisher
Research Institute and IDEAS to create Technology for Long-Term Care, a Web Site devoted to the dual
objectives of informing and educating the long-term care provider or potential consumer about available
technology products. This site contains information on hundreds of products designed to improve quality of
life and care for seniors in long-term care settings. This government-funded site is intended to inform
purchasing decisions and does not sell products.
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