A portable wheelchair lift and online games help ease social isolation
1 | Increasing Independence
Lift2Go is a portable wheelchair lift for temporary applications made by Calgary-based Adaptive Concepts Ltd. The modular design allows customers to transport and set up the lift, without tools, in minutes, giving people in wheelchairs, scooters and other mobility aids temporary access over stairs.
“It’s a piece of equipment, but what it represents for the users is freedom, independence, mobility and, in some cases, the ability to be at home with loved ones,” says Graham Smith, president, Adaptive Concepts Ltd.
Smith says his company saw a dramatic increase in the need for wheelchair lifts and ramps in Calgary in March 2020.
“When COVID hit, we heard from our colleagues at Alberta Health Services that they were struggling to get people out of hospitals to make room for COVID patients,” he says.
To help people transition from hospitals to their homes, Adaptive offered a revolutionary pay-what-you-can lifting service, setting up temporary lifts at homes in the Calgary area.
“These were people who didn’t need to be in hospital for medical reasons, it was simply they were in wheelchairs and there was no way to get them up five steps to their front porch,” he says. “It felt great to give back to the community.”
Smith says in addition to helping facilitate early hospital release, his customers are renting mobile lifts because they are postponing sending their friends or family members to long-term care facilities due to the pandemic. He also says that awareness about the negative effects of social isolation, particularly for those living with dementia, is increasing demand for his company’s services.
“They’re renting one of our lifts for as little as a few hours and because the deployment time and cost are so low, that becomes a practical thing.” [ ]
To learn more about Lift2Go, visit lift2go.com. To learn more about a Mobilift, a portable lift solution that is offered by Adaptive Concepts’ sister company, Adaptive Engineering, visit adaptivelifts.com. The Mobilift is different from the Lift2Go in that it doesn’t disassemble and is a vertical platform lift vs. an inclined platform lift. Like the Lift2Go, the Mobilift can be set up at a single location anywhere from a few hours to a few months.
2 | Online games helping reduce social isolation
A litany of evidence shows the benefits of mental fitness and social connectedness in reducing cognitive decline in older adults. An emerging field of study building on this research is exploring if digital games can help older adults avoid social isolation and improve their social-emotional health.
“I think of all the things that seniors can do to be healthy and happy, staying socially connected is the number one most important thing,” says Dr. David Kaufman, professor emeritus, faculty of education at Simon Fraser University. “Our research is showing that digital games can provide social benefits to seniors.”
Since 2013, Kaufman’s team has studied hundreds of older adults across Canada at care homes, community centres and private homes, investigating the potential various digital games had in helping them combat social isolation. The team tested commercially available games like Nintendo Wii Bowling, and also designed their own “frame games” — custom digital versions of games like Bingo — that require the users to answer trivia questions periodically. The team even designed a virtual reality escape room game based on the children’s classic Alice in Wonderland. Nearly all the games studied increased participants’ social connectedness (on a scale) and reduced loneliness. Participants who played a Bingo frame game showed statistically significant improvements in social connectedness, as well as knowledge about nutrition and health, and reported an improved attitude toward digital games.
“A lot of seniors unfortunately are spending way too much time sitting in front of TV, which is a very passive activity,” Kaufman says. “Having them play games can help foster connectedness and lessen feelings of isolation.” [ ]