Using Technology to Help Aging Parents at Home
Home Aides, Huntington, NY
Technology has never been more vital to supporting aging parents at home. The number of Americans aged 65 and older will grow from 48 million to 88 million by 2050 and almost 70% of that population will need care at home. Most older adults want to age at home and with a growing shortage in home care workers and the cost of care increasing, technology will bring about new solutions to the long-term care crisis in the United States.
There have been numerous advancements in technology to support older adults at home including fall prevention products, remote monitoring systems, automated medication dispensers and reminders, assistive devices for walking, vision loss, and hearing loss, smart home automation, and even artificial intelligence and robotics to help with daily living activities. They can supplement the family members that are responsible for helping older loved ones as well as work in conjunction with the services of in-home care providers.
Technology can go together with in-home care providers by enhancing the oversight and support. For example, if your loved one gets up at night an overnight in-home caregiver could monitor that person from a separate room in the home by using cameras and sensors that would send alerts when there is movement. Another example would be having an in-home caregiver during the daytime to help your loved one get up and down from sitting positions using a seat lift rather than straining themselves. These products would keep your aging parent, and anyone involved in providing assistance and care, healthy and safe.
Personal emergency response systems (PERS) are devices that are setup in the home with a unit that connects to a phone line and a wearable pendant with a button for the older adult to press in the event of an emergency. Traditionally, these products would require the senior to push a button if they needed help during an emergency such as, a fall, accident, or injury while at home. Today, most PERS offer fall detection which does not require the older adult to press a button because the system will detect that the person has fallen and automatically call for help. Some examples of fall detection products are below.
Remote Monitoring Systems
Remote monitoring allows for family members to check-in on their aging parents from a remote location. These systems are setup using sensors around the home and cameras to allow family members to watch for activity patterns, activity changes, and be alerted if there is a problem. They commonly come with an app for a smartphone to login and review those activities that the sensors are programmed to monitor.
Some examples of remote monitoring systems are below.
Safe Wander (bed exit alarm sensor)
Automated Medication Dispensers
Medication non-adherence is a significant global health problem with people with chronic conditions. In fact, up to 50% of those with a chronic illness on average do not take those medications as prescribed. Adult children with aging parents are often concerned about whether their loved one is taking their medication correctly. Automated medication dispensers take the guessing out of the picture and create a regiment of reminders and prompts when its pill time. Also, some of these state-of-the-art devices have technology to sort and dispense up to 10 medications with a month’s supply. They can also send alerts to family members when medications are not taken and even allow for 2-way communication on the device itself. Below are two companies that offer automated medication dispensers.
Assistive Devices for Walking and Sitting
Devices that help with walking (i.e. canes and walkers) and sitting (i.e. raised toilet seats) have been around for a long time, however, there have been some innovations to these products. Activator Poles provide dual side stability and greater support with walking giving the person more confidence with their steps. Each pole can support 200 pounds (see link below). A seat lift is a portable mechanical lift that brings you from a sitting to a standing position. It features a memory foam cushion and a waterproof cover and can be placed on just about any seat surface.
Technology in geriatric care is evolving and expanding every day. By incorporating technology into the care plan for your aging parents you will increase your chances of saving money on the cost of care, create efficiencies, prevent accidents and injuries by keeping them healthier and safer at home, and enhance their independence. Technology can also work very well alongside in-home care providers by offering more monitoring capabilities and reducing some of the physical strain that can accompany the care of older adults.