Tag Archives: High Tech to age in place

Health care tools and technology- Helping seniors continue to live at home

BrCX0s0CEAEDAyaAfter talking for years about the need of a new paradigm helping seniors to age in place and the important role of healthcare tools and technology to help them continue to live at home, i welcomed with contentment the recommendations of our friend Edward Francis at Foresthc.com.

We have often stressed aging in place as the natural way of aging. Living in your own home for as long as possible is important to many people, especially to seniors. It is full of memories and is comfortable and familiar. This makes it very difficult to leave and, providing your health is adequate there is no reason to move. There are a variety of new tools available which will help any older person keep living comfortably in their home:

Medical alarms

A personal alarm is not a new idea! They have been fitted to homes or carried on your person for many years. If something happens you simply need to press the button for assistance. However, if you are unable to reach the button for any reason then the alarm is useless. Modern technology has now devised fall detection and incorporated it into these alarms.  Should you fall then the alarm will automatically summon assistance. It even has a GOS tracker built in to help the emergency services locate you.

Monitoring your meds

It can sometimes be difficult to remember to take your medication and this can often be the only reason that someone needs to move to a nursing home or an assisted living home. However, there is now a pill dispenser which sounds several alarms and even calls your cell phone to remind you to take your medication. Alongside this you can have sensors fitted to your botles which confirm when the pills were taken and how many. If you miss a dose then a message is sent out to your caregiver for them to follow up.

GPS shoes

Many older people love to walk and enjoy the fresh air. Unfortunately, the city you live in could be rapidly changing and, combined with an impaired cognitive function, you may find yourse
lf lost. A GPS tracker in your shoes will help other to know where you are and locate you, if necessary. This system works best if you set geographical boundaries and even time limits.

Home monitoring systems

Sensors placed around your home will allow your caregiver to build up a picture of your normal movements and any routines you have. The system can then be programmed with this information and any deviation to your usual activity will flag an alert with your caregiver and encourage them to investigate and confirm your health and safety. These sensors can also be used to detect if you have a fall or potentially an unknown illness as your patterns will change. They will even show if someone is in your home that is not you.

Apps

There are now apps available which will allow you to communicate with your caregiver, friends or family with just a few clicks. This can be a pre-set message which simply tells people that you are fine, or you can use a panic button which alerts everyone in a predetermined list that you need assistance. Other apps will also remind you to take your medication or can even direct you back to your home if you have lost your way. Among some of the most efficient, we must mention:

  • BloodPressue iBP
  • Pill Reminder Pro
  • Geriatric Depression Scale
  • Dragon Dictation

Remote monitoring

It is possible to get a wrist band which can track your vitals and connect to a smart phone. The information concerning your vitals can then be relayed to a doctor or caregiver. This will ensure you receive prompt help if needed and that you do not waste the doctor’s time or raise your stress levels by needing to visit a doctor. There is a wide range of items which can be monitored including, heart rate, blood glucose, steps taken, diet, and even time spent sleeping!

Many people are already active on at least one social media site and this can be an excellent way for them to stay in touch with another senior relative. Messages can be kept simple but will provide valuable reassurance, especially if you live a distance away from your family. Seniors can easily live comfortably in their own homes. However, because accidents might happen, it’s certainly a good idea for caregivers to keep an eye on their behavior even from a distance. Apps and monitoring devices are excellent tools. Most of them are quite affordable (some are even free), so it’s definitely a good thing that technology is finally starting to care for the elderly as well but always the high touch is needed to supplement the high tech to effectively help seniors age in place.

Aging in Place: Assistive Technology and Human Touch to Solve the Caregiving Issue

Aging in PlaceWe all know those smart and dynamic elders, who used to be professionals, hard workers, homemakers, very engaged in their communities, who slowly but surely, are aging with aches and pains and diminishing faculties, with some times chronic and debilitating diseases rising in the horizon. We all try to help them to little (or no) avail, since the response is: “I do not need help …I am not moving from my home…I am not going to one of those places full of old people”… Does it sound familiar? If you have an elderly parent or loved one in need of care and help, I am sure you have.

Many studies since 2007 have focused on Aging in Place and what seniors and baby boomers want. Besides being in denial of needing help, elders fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than they fear death, according to a study, “Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, which also found that the Baby Boomer children of seniors also fear for their parents. Boomers express particular concern about their parents’ emotional and physical well being should they have to enter a nursing home, finds the study, which examines the attitudes and anxieties of the nation’s elderly population. Although since 1997 AARP survey, we know (89%) of the interviewees answer they wanted to stay at home, and age in place – or live independently, but more than half of those surveyed (53%) are concerned with their ability to do so.

Some of the issues that force older adults out of their homes is not only illness and frailty but houses that do not accommodate their needs, isolation, and lack of support –we know our communities, sad to say, are not equipped with volunteerism enough to help some of these seniors or systems that protect not only the low income ones but the middle class, as well.

Projects like Capable in Baltimore, where volunteers come helping seniors run errands and reach the next community even that day while retrofitting their houses has proven to keep seniors at home longer. The project started as a major research effort in the Baltimore area called the CAPABLE project – it stands for Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders – is sending handymen, nurses and occupational therapists into the homes of hundreds of low-income seniors aging in place to see how far $4,000 can go in preserving people’s independence. The project’s initial success has captured nationwide media attention and piqued the interest of federal officials straining to hold down Medicaid costs. If it can be scaled up and tried nationwide, it could potentially save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars. The average cost of nursing home care in the U.S. is $6,700 a month, much of it paid through Medicaid, so even postponing a move to a nursing facility by just a few months can have a major impact.

Another well known solution but difficult to implement, on one hand because seniors resistance to technology, and on another because of baby boomers not turning their parents into it, is Gero-technology that can lower the cost of home care when needed and/or help keep seniors independently but safely at home. Aging in a high tech world is not easy for these seniors but there are agencies and resources in the community to help them and their families navigate through the maze of options and what is really needed.

These technologies go from the safety ones to guarantee people are safe at home, and monitor their comes-and-goes, as needed without invasion, to the tablets to communicate with loved ones, receive medication reminders, or access services in the community. Organizations like Living Well use leading-edge technologies to evaluate their members’ health and mental status, reduce the cost of care, communicate medical and other information to physicians and relatives, provide cognitive vitality programming and monitor personal safety. When needed, they will evaluate the layout of the home and undertake modifications to ensure mobility, access, and security. In addition, our professional housekeeping and maintenance staff keep our members’ homes updated, clean, and impeccably maintained.

Just today, May 4, 2015 California Health launched a report discussing the caregiving issue and if really this technology involving social networking and technology will “…save the day for one of America’s most intractable social problems — caring for the country’s aging population? The article proposes a different way of hiring caregivers but still posits the issue of just having a caregiver. One size does not fit all and for some of our loved ones just low-tech or high tech intervention can save the day. Now if in need of home care, options are there with agencies as the article states charging more than what a privately hired caregiver could cost but no- back up, or services that will monitor the process for you, and more. Read the article.

In reality, the high tech and high touch is a better answer. It is not only technology but the human connection what makes a real answer: personal services and advanced assistive technology can add a strong measure of comfort, convenience and control to those that desire to remain at home but have conditions that may limit their ability to move freely, communicate effectively or otherwise navigate their environment. Together they can ensure and encourage those that desire to age in place the opportunity to do so with safety and choices for the seniors and peace of mind for family members and friends. Check all the options and remember one size-does-not-fit all.

Technology To Stay at Home and Age in Place

Living Well Senior Care in San Francisco(From HUFFPOST 23 Sep 2013)

Dr. Ruth Bettelheim advocates for the use of new technology that would enable disabled people to live independently and elders to age in place. Dr. Bettelheim said,  recently on a post at the Huffington Post Blog the following: “…We’ve already waited too long to put the digital revolution to work for our most vulnerable. As a nation, though, we can do more to create new, affordable options for patients and their families.

At Living Well Assisted Living at Home, we have advocated for long time for the use of Gero-technology that will lower the cost of home care. Mainly in urban cities like San Francisco and the greater Bay Area senior care services and home care can be very high and prohibitive, creating a huge burden to family members and loved ones. Although as Dr. Bettelheim says “…there isn’t an app yet for keeping a mentally challenged patient safe in her own home with dignity and privacy. But national fiscal interest, moral integrity, and our own self-interest, dictate that there should be..” and yes indeed, these days there are many user friendly and low cost technologies,  to give choices to elders and peace of mind to family members.
The article continues also praising the possibilities that these technologies bring to family members who care for mentally challenged individuals: “…Recent technological advances offer the possibility of restoring independence and dignity to mentally challenged adults while easing the burden on families, for a fraction of current costs.

In a nation that values liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there are few greater tragedies than the routine incarceration of millions of individuals who suffer from mental disabilities, developmental impairments, or the debilitating dementia that affects up to 25% of our elderly population. However, recent technological advances offer the possibility of restoring independence and dignity to mentally challenged adults while easing the burden on families, for a fraction of current costs…”

Read the post

“IF I ever need to go to a nursing home, kill me first”

You do not need to leave your home

Aging in Place: You do not need to leave your home!

Given that 89% of people do not want to leave their homes, this statement featured on the article The Technology for Monitoring Elderly Relatives on The New York Times (July 28, 2010) about new technologies to help people stay at their home, makes total sense.

The purpose of many of these technologies is to provide enough supervision to make it possible for elderly people to stay in their homes rather than move to an assisted-living facility or nursing home — a goal almost universally embraced as both emotionally and financially desirable.

Read More about it…

New Devices Help Seniors Stay Longer in Their Own Homes.

An article supporting Living Well’s high-tech – high touch approach, was published by Health Day: News for Healthier Living on January 18 by Dennis Thompson. The article stresses the importance of using technology to keep seniors for longer and safer: ” Seniors who want to remain in their homes despite illness and infirmity can get a high-tech assist these days. So can their children who might worry about…Sensors, GPS and more are being used to track aging parents’ movements… So can their children who might worry about an elderly parent living alone, often far from family members.

The 1980s-era medical alert pendants made famous by their television advertising (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) are now among a wide array of devices that can help keep an eye on aging parents and get them help when they need it.

Available technologies include:

  • Sensors in the home to track an older person’s movement, from the front door to the medicine cabinet to the refrigerator to the stove. The sensors are linked with computers that can issue alerts when people deviate from their routine.
  • Global positioning system devices, using the GPS technology that’s become so common in cars, that can help locate someone with dementia who’s wandered from home.
  • Computerized pillboxes that track whether medication is being taken on time.

Read More

Home Health Technology Can Help Lower Costs of Senior Care

Living Well technology to lower cost of seniorcare

Living Well Assisted Living at Home has been an advocate of the high tech – high touch model as a tool to enhance home safety for seniors at home and a model that helps lower costs for seniorcare.  We found support to this stance on an article by Science Daily (1) on 12/31/10 “…Home health care technology may provide one important solution to global concerns about how to sustain health care systems threatened by rising costs and manpower shortages, but such a change faces multiple obstacles to adoption, according to a new RAND Corporation study. They continue by saying  ‘…Home health care technology spans a broad spectrum from basic diagnostic tools, such as glucose meters, to advanced telemedicine solutions. Those advances have pushed the frontier of care management further into the home setting. The advances have the potential to not only support current care delivery, but to fundamentally change the model to a more efficient and more patient-centered one, according to the report. Home care also makes it easier for patients to age in place, if they prefer, and avoid institutionalization…” Read the report

Some other pieces of technology are the ones that assure home safety and fall detection. Read more about safety technology.

(1) RAND Corporation (2010, December 31). Home health care could help sustain health care systems, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 3, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2010/12/101208130048.htm