Great news for aging adults who wants to continue living in their homes (and studies show that most do) — many companies are providing products and services that make staying in your home (called “aging in place”) possible.
Below, we provide the knowledge and resources currently available that could positively impact the life of your senior loved one. Implementation only should be pursued after research and your determination as to what is best for the individual senior.
When used correctly, new and emerging technology can help seniors age in place. It can provide support when family members or caregivers are not available, and technology can help keep caregivers organized. When reviewing technology for your senior loved one, consider the six “M’s”:
Monitoring Seniors with Technology
A primary concern for relatives and caregivers is the state in which the senior adult is living. Are they safe? Are they eating, and is what they are eating healthy? Are they taking their medications correctly? Have they fallen? Luckily, with technology, you can monitor your senior loved ones.
GrandCare Systems offers a comprehensive array of services, including monitoring the senior’s home, coordinating care, and medication management via remote sensors and communication technology. One of its systems, Lively, has sensors that can be placed on pill containers, in bathrooms, and on refrigerators or doors. Activated sensors can alert remote caregivers of a senior’s activity by email, Web, phone, or text.
In addition, systems have been created that can detect falls or track seniors who are prone to wander. Medical alert systems that enable seniors to call for help have been available for years. Other products include smart smoke alarms that not only sound in the home but send a message to a caregiver.
Medical Assistance Online
Digital pill dispensers can be programmed to dispense the correct medications at the right time. The dispensers are able to provide a medication reminder to the senior as well, and the system will notify a caregiver if the medications were not taken.
There are technologies that organize prescriptions and store medical information. Wireless blood pressure monitors can relay information to the senior’s health care providers. AARP provides a comprehensive list of medical products and technology that help seniors age in place.
In addition, health care systems with electronic health records have patient portals, which allow seniors or their family to communicate directly with their physicians online. The physician can answer questions, and patients can order prescription refills, access their test results, and manage their appointments.
Mobility Technologies for Seniors
As we age, we can lose our ability to navigate our homes easily. New products can provide assistance to older adults where needed, and the technology helps seniors age in place. Home medical equipment suppliers can provide an array of stair lifts, pool lifts, recliners that can gently boost a senior to his or her feet, and scooters.
In addition, electric dumbwaiters can be installed in the home to reduce the amount of stair climbing for seniors, and walk-in tubs allow access without having to lift legs to clear the side of a standard tub.
Many transportation options are available for those seniors who are living in their homes who may not be able to drive. These vehicles are equipped to help people with mobility problems, and the senior transportation services are not intended for medical emergencies. Senior Living provides information on how to assess senior transportation services.
Maintenance for Daily Life
This “M” topic is not about fixing the kitchen faucet—it’s about maintaining a household when aging makes it more difficult to handle all the needs that come with owning a home.
Voice-activated, hands-free devices can perform a large and ever-increasing number of tasks to help seniors with everyday life, such as:
- turning on lights to keep seniors from stumbling in a dark room
- controlling thermostats
- making calls to friends and family
- ordering a pizza or groceries.
These devices can provide reminders of birthdays, reveal where car keys and important documents are usually located, supply prompts on when to take medications, and pay bills. They can also connect seniors to news, weather, games, and information accessible on the Internet.
Staying in touch with caregivers, family, and friends has been made easier with simplified email systems like PawPawMail.
Senior pet owners have access to a wide variety of pet foods that can be ordered online and delivered to the senior’s home by companies like Chewy.com. Veterinary services are also available to make home visits for seniors’ pets in the St. Louis area.
Meal Planning and Delivery
If preparing meals is an unwelcome task and going out is difficult, food delivery can be a great option to help seniors age in place. With many meal plan options that can be ordered online, such as Hello Fresh, it’s never been easier for a senior to plan and make meals.
Instead of subscribing to a meal plan service, local grocers may deliver food and supplies as well. Instacart delivery service brings groceries, pharmacy items, and pet supplies to the senior’s home, and their requested items can be ordered online with ease.
Managing a Senior’s Life with Technology
There are many resources available that enable seniors to remain independent while aging in place. Some things to keep in mind:
- Many of the software and online technologies for seniors can be operated by pressing a single button.
- An ongoing assessment by seniors, caregivers, and family members regarding the senior’s changing needs and capabilities is critical.
- The level of monitoring required should be evaluated against the security and peace of mind it provides.
Although technology helps seniors age in place, it is possible that eventually professional in-home care or home health services, like those offered by Bethesda, may be the answer to the care needs of seniors.
Enabling loved ones to age in place sometimes places a strain on caregivers. If you are a senior caregiver, AARP offers several caregiver apps to help you get organized and find support. This can be a great resource for senior caregivers to share advice and provide support to one another.
Thanks to new technology, many seniors are able to stay in their homes. At Bethesda, we provide the support needed to help seniors age in place and support their caregivers. Contact us online or call 314-218-2600 to learn more about our in-home senior care services.