How Tech Can Help Seniors Live Better and More Independently
February 27, 2017
When people think about the substantial leap that technology has taken in recent years, they normally call to mind images of things like smartphones, tablets and other devices that make our lives significantly easier on a daily basis. What may not come to mind is that these same advancements making waves among the general public are also making it much easier for seniors to stay at home and live independently while also allowing medical professionals to monitor their status, coordinate care and initiate more timely interventions. Thanks to innovations in the healthcare field such as electronic health records and wearable technology, it has never been easier at any time in recorded history for an in-home caregiver to help seniors and people with disabilities to live comfortably and independently in their homes.
Wearable technology like smart watches aren’t just for counting calories and recording your exercise – it’s also a great way for medical professionals, loved ones or emergency services to remotely monitor the status of seniors while they continue to live in their homes.
With the right wearable “smart” tech, such as the Metria Wearable Sensor, a doctor can call up a senior’s vital signs, check progress on certain medications and generally perform most of the functions that they would during a routine checkup without the senior ever setting foot outside of their front door.
Devices such as the Care Predict Tempo, help family members or care providers stay aware of changes in routine or condition, allowing for interventions before a decline in health or accident occurs. This can dramatically cut down the need for unnecessary physician visits or hospital admissions as any necessary adjustments to a medical regimen or interventions can be made by the senior caregiver or nurse at the home.
Some wearable tech can even physically protect a senior from immediate harm. For seniors who are considered a high fall risk, the Active Protective belt, a new “smart belt” which can actually detect a fall-in-progress and deploy airbags over the wearer’s hips during a fall to prevent bone breaks.
With an ever increasing population of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, wearable devices have adapted to help family members or caregivers keep track of their loved one to ensure they are safe. While using a cell phone for geo-location can help, this function is useless if your loved one loses their phone or simply doesn’t take it with them. Innovators are developing new ways to integrate monitoring function into everyday items that won’t be left behind. For instance, a company called Lechal has integrated several features into their shoe insoles, providing not only location monitoring but a navigation feature and fitness data tracker as well. SmartSole also provides a GPS tracking feature in their insoles, making it easy to track your loved one’s location through your smartphone.
More and more seniors are choosing to remain at home and continue active and independent lifestyles, even after the need for care arises. In response, new innovative concepts are continually being developed to help seniors and people with disabilities stay safe and independent. In many cases, new tech keeps loved ones or caregivers informed on a senior’s health, habits and concerns. Remote monitoring has come a long way since the basic monitor and speaker system most of us have used as we care for our loved ones, young and old.
Video monitoring, when used appropriately, is one way to keep track of a loved one’s status. As options for video camera monitoring systems have become increasingly compact, versatile and affordable, it’s now a more practical consideration for eldercare applications.
Some systems, such as the Nest Cam allow single or multiple camera options that are viewable through a phone app. The system alerts your or your caregiver’s phone when there is motion in the room and also two-way interaction through a built-in speaker and mic. If there is a concern, you can ask your loved one for feedback and they can respond to you. Camera monitoring not only provides visual confirmation of your loved one’s status but can also help assure you that they are receiving the quality of care they deserve. Before investing in a remote video monitor, you must consider the right to privacy and self-determination. Be sure to discuss the idea with your loved one or care client to ensure they understand and agree with the concept and its benefits.
Home sensor and interactive care systems are another way for caregivers or family to monitor a senior’s status and interact if there’s a need.
Lively, which was recently acquired by another leader in senior tech, GreatCall, combines wearable tech with home sensors to provide emergency intervention and status monitoring data. An easy to use and attractive watch is worn by the senior. This provides day, date and time, along with a help button which allows operators to communicate with the wearer regarding their situation and determine the level of response needed. The system also uses sensors and a hub at various stations throughout the house to monitor data such as medication administration, eating habits and other activities around the home. It even allows the user to keep track of how many steps were taken each day. This helps care providers and loved ones understand and intervene when there are concerning changes in routine or medications are missed.
Some systems provide even more detailed health information that can be shared with physicians, care providers or family. Services such as Ideal Life integrate with diagnostic devices around the home or that the senior wears. These devices can measure vital information such as oxygen levels, blood pressure, weight fluctuations or medication administration. Physicians and caregivers are able to access this information online and can use this to address concerns, track treatment progress, or make adjustments to a care plan.
The devices mentioned are just a small sample of available tech designed to help seniors and people with disabilities not only live longer but better and more independently. As monitoring tech capabilities continue to develop and options grow, possibilities will also expand for more creative and versatile care solutions that provide a much better quality of life at home.
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