How Technology is Revolutionizing the Elder Care World

How Technology is Revolutionizing the Elder Care World
Image credit: Flickr - WestKastle

Technology can make all facets of your life easier. Though it’s easy to gripe that technology simply makes things more complicated, if you take a step back, it’s plain to see the many benefits that technology provides. Whether it’s universal access to information, or simply the means to communicate in real time with people all over the world, technology allows us as a society to do more – faster and easier than ever before.

So it should perhaps come as little surprise that technology can play a role in home care as well. If you care for a loved one or are responsible for an elderly patient, you may not realize the many ways in which technology can play a role. And yet, with a little research, you may find that technology enables you to provide better patient care with less effort. Here are ways that technology is revolutionizing the elder care world.

Wearable Technology

From fitness trackers to smartwatches, wearables have a wide range of uses when it comes to elder care. For example, wearable fitness trackers like the Fitbit make it easy to monitor an elder patient or loved one’s daily activity regimen. If he or she is undergoing physical therapy, or expected to maintain a baseline of activity, these trackers make it simple to objectively gauge their performance. Simply look at the hard data. No Honor system required.

On the other hand, smart watches like the Apple Watch and Moto360 allow an elder individual to always be in reach, regardless of whether or not there is a phone nearby. Knowing that you can call your loved one at any time can provide both you and them with peace of mind – as well as make your job easier while away. With wearables, the technology accommodates the individual, rather than the individual having to accommodate the technology.

Medication Reminders

Many elderly individuals are reliant on medication. If they forget to take these medications on time, or in the proper dosages, it can severely impact their health and well-being, putting that at undue and unnecessary risk. To help solve this problem and ensure that elderly patients are taking their medications on time – and in the correct amount – there are a wide range of medication adherence devices now available.

Technology can make dispensing medication foolproof by eliminating all of the guesswork. Though your loved one may forget to take pills when they are due, a computer won’t. Devices like the MedMinder alert individuals when their medications are ready, and will even send out notices if the medication is overdue. With a device that will send you a text every time your loved one forgets to take his or her pills, you can rest easy.

Emergency Response Devices

Even with the best of intentions and diligent care, you can’t be everywhere at once. At some point in time, your loved one will be home alone. In such circumstances, how will you know if he or she falls, or becomes incapacitated? How will your loved one call for assistance if they require help? These very situations are what medical alert devices are for. Worn on the body so that they are never out of reach, medical alert devices can provide you and your loved one with confidence.

Devices like the Lively Mobile, by GreatCall, include highly trained certified agents who are on call 24/7, fast response times, built-in GPS tracking, fall detection, and a waterproof design. Easily clipped onto the clothing, worn on the wrist, or around the neck on a lanyard, the Lively Mobile can be worn everywhere, even in the shower. Should your loved one require help, assistance is available at the push of a button.

Portable Diagnostic Tools

Constant monitoring of vitals has several benefits, chief among them the ability to stay on top of potential health issues so that they can be addressed early, and being able to reduce the number of appointments that are required in a given period. If your loved one is able to monitor vitals at home, reliably and easily, then doctor appointments can be eliminated or spread out. Thankfully, when it comes to at-home portable diagnostic tools, there are no shortage of options.

Examples include the Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) system, for individuals with diabetes, and the Cue bio tracker, which provides information on a range of different metrics, including Vitamin D levels, inflammation, and testosterone, to name but a few. Of course, with so many portable diagnostic tools available, you may not know where to start. Speak with your loved one and their primary caregiver to see if there are any at-home solutions to help monitor health.

Virtual Digital Assistants

There are a number of personal digital assistants now on the market that can make life easier for your loved one when they are home. Though the capabilities of these systems vary and are dependent in part on the various systems that they are synced to, devices like Amazon’s Alexa-enabled Echo and Google’s Home work by voice command. This enables phone calls, news updates, weather reports, media playback, and even online ordering to be accomplished entirely hands-free. Though you may need to set the system up for your loved one, and provide him or her with a brief tutorial, don’t be surprised if your loved one takes to their virtual assistant like a fish to water once they see it in action.