Wayne LaRochelle admits he “never paid attention to getting old.” But now, moved by the plight of his recently deceased mother and his own physical limitations, LaRochelle is paying attention to adaptive technology.
LaRochelle, a retired software engineer, believes that technology and information are the key to improving improve life for seniors and people living with disabilities.
Addressing a Pressing Problem For Those Wanting to Age in Place
The basic problem, he argues, is that most people want to age at home. But because the nursing home market is so much more lucrative, corporations develop adaptive technology for that market rather than looking at products that could make it easier to age at home.
Now LaRochelle wants to change that, which is why he founded and recruited other engineers and business people for Senior Solutions and Designs, “a new organization dedicated to helping seniors age-in-place by providing them with technological solutions to everyday challenges of living independently.” It’s also why he began attending meetings of the San Francisco Tech Council and working with Aging 2.0 (a global, interdisciplinary network of innovators).
“We don’t have to invent new technology. All the technology we need is already available. We can just take items off the shelf and adapt them.
“Look at wheelchairs and self-driving cars. An “intelligent wheel chair would use off-the-shelf products such as Bluetooth 4LE, WiFi location finding and GPS to move the chair from location to location. Ultrasonic and tactile sensors would prevent collisions. An onboard tablet with a graphical interface would control the chair. The users would choose where they want to go in the home and the chair would take them there. The chair could also be controlled by a separate tablet or smart phone App. And would be self-docking for recharging its batteries and could be summoned remotely.”
You can wear a call-button that summons help, but what we really need, LaRochelle believes, are in-home devices that are predictive as well as reactive: a mirror that tells you when you’re looking pre-stroke so you could take immediate, preventive action.
“With an A.I. (artificial intelligence) device in every room of your home, you’d be safer.” Many seniors are afraid of the technology. They fear it would violate their privacy. What they need is to understand adaptive technology and be comfortable with it. They need to recognize it could save their life.”
Building a Network of Retirees with Adaptive Technology Expertise
Which brings us to the other part of LaRochelle’s mission: the need to get this information out to the people. When LaRochelle retired from his consulting job several years ago, he began looking for free and low-cost services and programs. “There’s no list. No one place where you can find out what adaptive technology is available and how to get it. That needs to change.”
LaRochelle’s list of needed changes continues to grow. “Just look at the criteria for national programs. They should be based on the regional cost of living, not some national figure which doesn’t relate to Bay Area prices.
“How about exercises to keep us mentally fit. Senior centers offer exercises to keep us physically fit, but how about offering an anti-senility room, a place where we can go to do exercises that help slow senility.”
That’s why LaRochelle is looking for others to join his movement – retired engineers, entrepreneurs and people experienced in running companies – to lend their expertise, funders to support Senior Solutions and Designs, and advocates to stimulate the ground swell to create a better future for seniors.
“None of this is going to happen unless seniors advocate for it. Seniors need to assert themselves and advocate aggressively for what they need. No one will serve us except ourselves.” You can connect with Wayne at email@example.com.