Today we're taking a break from our typical topics of care transitions and home care to bring you a guest blog from Chicago-based freelance blogger and writer Beth Kelly. Beth's bio is below.
5 Cutting-Edge Home Automation Options for Seniors and Retirees
by Beth Kelly
The most rapidly growing demographic in the United States today is that of seniors and retirees. As the “baby boomers” age and begin to place their health in the hands of family members and caretakers, many companies are looking to improve the devices used in their care. Living out their golden years in their own home, without sacrificing health and safety, is at the forefront of many boomer’s concerns. The ability to "age in place," with dignity, and remain in the comfortable, familiar surroundings of their own home, is a luxury that should be afforded to all.
Rapid advances in technology have made aging in place a viable and affordable option for many families. Even professional home care service providers note that, if applicable, a system for monitoring and assisting an elderly patient is one of the best first-steps towards increasing a loved one’s level of care. Read on to learn more about latest innovations in home technology- you might find an option that fits your family’s needs.
- GPS Systems- Wearable GPS systems, which allow for real-time monitoring and tracking of the individual wearing the device, secure easily on the wrist and look similar to a watch. There are also stand alone handheld, waterproof GPS devices intended for use by seniors. These are ideal for those in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. GPS shoes have recently arrived on the market, and are capable of guiding their wearer to any destination on the globe. By employing a GPS system, caregivers can keep track of elderly patients without needing to monitor them 24 hours a day.
- Medication-Dispensing Devices - Medication-dispensing devices are convenient for elderly folks who have trouble remembering their proper dosages or when to take certain pills. A machine contains the medication, sorted into cups, that should be taken each day. An alarm sounds when the medicine should be administered by the patient or their caregiver. If the button on the machine is not pushed after ninety minutes of reminder alarms, then a message text is sent to a designated recipient.
- Home Alert Systems - Home security and management companies like Vivint, ADT, Honeywell offer monitoring services that provide a wealth of valuable features enhancing the safety of a senior living at home. They’re available in a variety of wearable forms, such as pendants and bracelets that seniors can wear on their person to provide 24-hour instant access to emergency services. Not only will these devices contact medical services in the event of an emergency, but many can do double (or even triple!) duty by acting as security systems, smoke detectors and/or carbon monoxide detectors- one example is Google’s famous Nest. Some of these services are even available for those that don't have a phone line.
- Hands-Free Controls - If memory and mobility issues are a problem, voice controls and speech recognition modules can act as solutions. Thanks to the development of software able to intelligently differentiate and act upon spoken keywords and commands, hardware devices can beam an infrared signal to any device that's normally controlled by an ordinary remote control. The result is intimate control of televisions, consumer electronics, Blu-Ray players, and other frequently used electronics. The VoiceIR Environmental Voice Controller is an example of this technology, which provides users with hands-free dominion over dozens of household electronics, expandable to garage doors, lighting, and more.
- Future Tech - While still in the prototype phase, there has been much speculation about the creation of Apple’s new "iWatch.” An iWatch, or similar technology, would be a tiny, yet powerful tool for aging seniors. This device could be worn like a watch, but would contain the powerful functions of a computer or smartphone. It’s still just a rumor, but reports say that the iWatch will be capable of monitoring everything from sleep patterns to glucose and calorie consumption.
From existing technologies, like the home security system or GPS monitor, to exciting tech tools still ahead on the horizon, these innovative technologies make it easier than ever before for seniors to stay connected to their caregivers. As top home care specialists note, technology has been a boon to all age groups – from the very young to the very old – and these devices imply a future in which our elderly loved ones will be able to remain safe and healthy for a long time to come.
Beth Kelly is a freelance blogger and writer from Chicago, IL. She’s become passionate about healthcare and technology issues, and how the two can intersect to make life easier for senior citizens and others with limited mobility. In her free time she’s an avid gardener and lover of silent films. Find her on twitter @bkelly_88
Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.