Nobody likes losing his or her independence. The elderly are famous for stubbornly refusing help from friends or family for fear that they will be considered a “burden” or “helpless”. While this is in some ways admirable, it can often become dangerous when older persons push themselves past their limits or try to perform tasks that they are simply not capable of doing anymore (like driving). The developed nations are getting old and that means that finding ways to aid our aging populous safely maintain their independence and remain productive is of growing importance. Japan has always been famous for the reverence that they display towards older members of their society (Sadly, the US does not often share this sentiment). They seem to be leading the way in creating devices and inventions to help keep a high quality of life for the elderly. Many of you have seen the “Robot Suit for Farmers” that allows an eighty year old man to pick up an 80lbs. grain sack with virtually no effort, but sometimes it is the simple things that make the biggest difference. “Mago no Ashi” (”grandchild’s foot”) from Corporation Pearl Star, this simple device helps people who are not able to put their socks on for themselves. As you can imagine this could be an embarrassing and frustrating situation. Many of us who are younger may take for granted the importance of being able to do such a simple task, but those who struggle with simply being able to take care of themselves, enabling self sufficiency could be the greatest gift in the world.

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