Making Home Care Easier with Smart Homes and Other Technology
When it comes to elder care in the 21st century, many of our elderly loved ones are choosing to age in place – they prefer to remain living in their own homes. Who can blame them? Home is where the heart is, and so many assisted living facilities come with high cost and numerous concerns. Is their staff dedicated and professional? Will my loved one be treated with dignity and respect? When your loved ones remain at home, you know they’re surrounded by comfort. Home-based caregiving is becoming more affordable compared to nursing homes, and living surrounded by the familiar can help those suffering from dementia. Technology is even evolving to the point that we can keep our elders safe and cared for even when we’re not physically there.
In a time when over 14% of the American population are adults over the age of 65, we should be thankful that technology exists to keep our lives going while also helping our elders age in place. Through the use of smart home devices, apps, GPS, and more, we’re finding innovative ways to keep tabs on our parents and other loved ones.
Companies like Lively (formerly Healthsense) and HoneyCo provide solutions that integrate with your elder one’s home. They use discreet sensors to measure activity from movement and medication access to how often the toilet flushes or the refrigerator opens. They can also provide alerts when it’s time for someone to take their medication, such as changing the light color of a specific lamp. They keep tabs on which doors are open, whether they’re locked, what the indoor temperature is – it’s truly amazing. And all this data can be fed to you via a website dashboard or an app on your smartphone, giving you the knowledge you need and peace of mind you crave. If something unusual happens, you’ll know quickly and can call for emergency services or for a welfare check.
Another piece of excellent technology that supports our elderly is Life Alert – a true oldie and a goodie! Life Alert has been around and saving the lives of the elderly since the late 1980’s – who hasn’t heard their infamous ‘Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” tag line? Today, Life Alert provides waterproof emergency pendants that have a range of 800 feet from their main unit. These devices allow you to call for help in the event of a medical emergency or home intrusion. They now offer mobile pendants for those who are out and about as well, and even have a smartphone app that lets you call for help by pressing a single button on your cell phone.
With GPS technology has come wearable tech that lets you monitor someone’s location – there are phone-tracking apps, handheld devices, watches that let you track someone, even a trackable sole insert for shoes! If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s and wanders, these tools can be invaluable to their safety and your serenity. Both A Place for Mom and Caring Village have excellent suggestions for the best of these devices.
We’ve only scratched the surface of all the devices and services that are out there today making elder care easier. For even more ideas, check out AARP’s article “New Technology Could Allow You or Your Parents to Age at Home.” We’d love to hear from our readers as well – what caregiving apps or smart technologies have worked for you?