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Important advice for caregivers on improving the lives of seniors through technology

Caregiving for seniors now comes in a variety of forms. Thanks to improvements in technology, options for assisting seniors who want to age in place are expanding quickly. This can help give caregivers breathing room and their senior charges a stronger sense of independence.

The Benefits of Technology

Aging in place technology is designed to allow seniors to live at home as long as possible.

Some studies show that as many as 90 percent of seniors wish to stay home as they grow older.  Making technological tools and services part of your support program will save money and give your senior more self-confidence. These products can reduce medical emergencies as well as the amount of time spent giving direct care.

The First Hurdle

Many people are under the impression that seniors need to be computer savvy to navigate devices.  Products designed for aging in place take into account the lack of familiarity many users would have with technology and computers. Experts explain that users typically just need to push a button to operate these products. And according to CNN, many seniors are ready to embrace their options.  “People will always tend to use things that are simple and will eliminate problems in their life … Being independent is foremost in the mind of anybody that gets to be [seventy-five] or older.”

Products to Consider:

  • Sensors. Devices that monitor activity are installed throughout the home and create alerts if your loved one is not maintaining their routine.  Emergency personnel, family members, or other caregivers receive notification if something is awry. USA Today explains that if your senior doesn’t get out of bed at a normal time, or doesn’t take medication as usual, the sensors report the issue.  One example from Alarm.com is “Wellness,” a system of sensors and devices that learn activity routines.

  • Fall monitors. These gadgets can be worn around the wrist like a watch, or attached to clothing as pendants.  They offer push-button technology that notifies emergency personnel or family members that the user needs help.  Some of the devices also incorporate two-way communication and “fall detection” which can tell if the user fell and is unable to activate the button. Philips Lifeline offers the “GoSafe” pendant as well as “HomeSafe with AutoAlert.”

  • Medication dispensers and reminders. Devices such as the e-pill Med-Time Station emit an alarm and flash a light when it’s time to take medications, eliminating concerns that doses could be missed or accidentally doubled.

  • Smartphones. Some cell phones offer senior-friendly options with larger buttons and easy-to-read screens.  Voice recognition and speed dialing make them even more accessible. SeniorNet notes that not only will a cell phone help you keep in touch, but it also can provide GPS in the event you need to locate your loved one.

  • Video chat. Many video chat options are available for keeping in touch with your senior. Using these applications allows you to see and hear your loved one so you can tell more easily if something is amiss.  Skype and FaceTime are popular options. Consider sitting down to a meal that grandma can enjoy with your children once a week, via the internet.

Significant Savings

For seniors who need basic assistance and want to remain at home, these technological services are an attractive option. And, depending on the amount of care required, they can be a more affordable option as well. For example, in Washington D.C., a resident could spend $3,000 on care services and $2,787 on their mortgage, and still spend less than the $5,933 it would take to live in an assisted living facility.

Technology for Aging in Place

There are tremendous benefits in using technology for seniors who want to live at home. Products designed just for them assist with everyday living and provide health care and safety.  These services can mean significant savings to seniors and their families.  Use technology to help your senior maintain a good life.

June Duncan Author and Caregiver june@riseupforcaregivers.org  riseupforcaregivers.org

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