Using technology to help you successfully age-in-place is a smart way to keep costs down without sacrificing quality of care. We recommend older adults and their loved one’s first approach technology that makes aging-in-place safer and easier by identifying their needs first. Then, it’s easier to work backwards to find solutions that are cost-effective and easy to implement.
In this post, we’ll address the top three categories of technology that help you age-in-place successfully.
Monitoring Technology for Emergencies
Many older adults, particularly those living alone, have a fear of being caught unprepared during an emergency. If they fall or get sick and no one is around to check on them, what will happen to them? We all know and can relate to this fear of being alone, but it can be cost-prohibitive to bring in a caregiver every day and loved ones can’t always check in daily.
Thankfully, there are many technology providers with solutions designed to address this problem for older adults. In most cases, customers purchase a certain amount of equipment initially and then pay an ongoing monthly fee for the monitoring service.
There are various degrees of monitoring provided by different providers. Some include wearables and basic fall detection while others include some level of medical monitoring and remote telehealth services like the below:
Great Call: Great Call is best known for its wearable device similar to the ones featured memorably in the “ I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials. Although the wearable hasn’t changed much since the early days, the company invests a great deal of time in their customer service and onboarding training. This means clients benefit from a specially trained and responsive team during emergencies. This can make all the difference. As an added bonus, Great Call has various lower cost options that provide a feasible solution for most pocketbooks.
QMedic (Provided by CarePods): As part of their monthly package, CarePods clients receive devices and a membership to the 24/7 Response Monitoring system from QMedic. With proactive technology developed by MIT scientists, QMedic’s mission is to help your loved ones age independently and with dignity in the home. The company’s proprietary technology tracks activity, sleep and wear compliance to support wellness checks and peace of mind for caregiver and client alike.
In addition to the more traditional types of services and products offered above, many older adults and their family members use Apple Watch’s fall-detection and emergency response programs for their loved ones.
While the upfront cost of the Apple Watch is a little pricey, it has no ongoing service fee. The Watch is a great value-added tool for many families with excellent emergency and fall-detection features:
Apple Watch’s Emergency SOS Feature
The Apple Watch Emergency SOS feature helps your loved one call for emergency services and alert their emergency contacts with the touch of a button. To activate, users simply press and hold the side button on their watch. The Emergency SOS slider will appear, which they can immediately activate if able, or a countdown will start.
Once the countdown finishes, the Watch will automatically call emergency services and alert them to your location. The device will also notify any designated emergency contacts in your phone with a text with your location. If your location changes, your contacts will get an update.
Apple Watch’s Fall Detection Capabilities
Using the Apple Watch Series 4 or later’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, the device can detect when a user has taken a bad fall. The watch will tap the user on the wrist, display an alert message, and sound an alarm. If the user is OK, they can tap I’m OK or close the alert on their Apple Watch.
If the watch receives no input and detects that the wearer has been immobile for a minute, it will call emergency services automatically after a 30-second countdown and a series of louder alerts. When the call connects, the Apple Watch will play a message explaining that the user has fallen and provide the user’s current location. When that call ends, the Apple Watch will then send a message to the user’s emergency contacts list.
Health and Wellness Technology
Another category of technology growing in popularity with older adults is health and wellness technology. This category of technology helps seniors stay active and engaged as they age. While there are many, many options available, we particularly like the Wii Fit by Nintendo.
The Wii Fit is an integrative system that helps players maintain a healthy weight. It also helps users improve their strength and balance through games and aerobic activities. In addition to physical activity, using Wii to play video games can help with mental stimulation and also isolation. Wii games like the “Just Dance’ series can also provide older adults with an outlet for music and dance.
And finally, interactive videogames can be a great outlet for older adults. Videogames offer a way to connect with their grandchildren or other younger adults while keeping their mind sharp.
Caregiver Enabling Technology
Last but not least, we’ve included a category for hardworking caregivers. One of the primary challenges caregivers face is finding time to track and communicate with family members and care providers about their loved one’s needs. Thanks to talented entrepreneurs, there are now many high-quality tools that help caregivers streamline their duties. We’ve highlighted a few of our favorites below:
- Hero: Hero is a life-changing medication dispenser and tracker that helps older adults or their caregivers track medication adherence. You simply input you or your loved one’s regimen into the app, then place your medication into the device and it will store, sort and dispense the right medication at the right time to you. Hero can store a 90-day supply of up to 10 medications. Once you take the pills (or if you miss a dose) the app tracks and notifies others.
- CaringBridge: CaringBridge is a free, online tool for sharing health updates. Families can build a site around an older loved one’s needs and keep everyone in the loop with regular updates. You can ask for help with various caregiving tasks and streamline caregiving for everyone, so you don’t miss messages or overwhelm your personal email and text messages with caregiving updates.
- Symple: Symple makes journaling your loved one’s feelings and monitoring their health easy. It enables you to track overall well-being, steps, sleep, meals, medications, and more. Symple enables caregivers to:
- Create and track symptoms related to diet, activity, and medications
- Import steps, sleep, and other data from Apple Health
- Use timestamped photos to keep a record of which medications were taken
- Quickly navigate past data using the interactive calendar
In closing, we are all fortunate to have easy access to low-cost, high-tech interventions that make it easier than ever to age safely at home. As part of our ongoing services at CarePods, we help clients find and set up technological interventions. Do you have any favorite technologies you use for healthy aging? If so, comment below, we love to add to our list!
Until next time!
The CarePods Team