High-Tech Solutions for Aging in Place . . . Even If You Aren’t Technically Inclined
New technology for seniors is easy to use.
Have you had this conversation before?
“Mom, I think we need to talk about you living here on your own.”
“I’m fine. This is my home. I’m happy here—my friends are here. My life is here.”
“But Mom, I worry about you constantly. What if you fall and there’s no one here to help you?”
“Stop worrying! You’re my daughter, not my mother. I’m not in any danger. And I’m NOT going into one of those homes—at least not for a long time.”
“But, I can’t stop worrying...”
It’s a scene that has played itself out countless times in this country. Elderly parents who are gradually becoming frailer but who refuse to move into a retirement or nursing home, arguing with their adult children who are plagued with worry over their safety.
The tension arises when the children experience anxiety over the parent’s safety to the point where they want to limit their independence just to keep them safe, like an overprotective parent but without the moral authority. The parent rebels, not willing to hand over their independence and quality of life just yet.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 89 percent of Americans over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes as long as possible, a phenomenon known as “aging in place”—a phrase we’re all becoming increasingly familiar with.
In many cases, however, their grown children resist. And, oftentimes, the elderly parents themselves are privately experiencing some anxiety over their ability to cope. Maybe they’ve had a frightening moment on the basement stairs and wondered what would have happened had they fallen. But, they don’t want to mention it to their children in case it’s used as ammunition to move them to an institution.
Although aging in place research is limited, there is evidence that it will have significant benefits in terms of the social and emotional well-being of the elderly person, as well as financial savings for individuals, families, and government. In many ways, it seems like a win-win situation, if it can be made to work.
Aging in place requires the support of family, neighbors, and the community if it is to be done safely. House cleaning, gardening or snow removal, meal preparation, or perhaps some personal or nursing care may be required. If the adult children live a distance away, friends or neighbors nearby might be solicited to be the “boots on the ground” in an emergency or to check in at regular intervals. This responsibility can take a considerable toll on the peace of mind and the busy schedules of all involved.
And, even with all of that support, adult children, especially those who live at a distance, may still be reluctant to get on board.
Fortunately, the high-tech industry has responded to the challenge with a myriad of new technologies that can help ease the tension by allowing the children a greater degree of peace of mind, while parents retain their independence for as long as possible. Whether the children are worried about their parents falling, wandering off, or forgetting to take their meds, there’s a gadget for that. Here are just a few examples:
Pendants and wearables.
Wearable alert devices, such as a medical alert system from Medical Care Alert, which can be worn as a watch or pendant or can clip onto clothing, have a large emergency button that seniors can use in case of distress. Medical Care Alert offers a two-way voice console and 24/7 monitoring by a human being who will summon assistance and maintain contact until help arrives.
A number of products on the market, Lively for example, feature a central wireless hub that interfaces with small individual sensors that can be placed on the fridge, cupboards, doors, or medicine cabinet (or worn on the person) and will relay a report of activity to a family member, so they know their loved one is moving around and engaging in the activities of daily living.
For seniors with complicated or critical medication regimens, but who can be forgetful, an automated pill dispenser such as MedMinder’s Maya can remind them with sounds and flashing lights when to take their meds, going so far as to telephone the person if necessary. The service can also be accessed via the internet by the family to ensure things are going according to plan.
A do-it-yourself, secure, cloud-based video camera system such as iWatchLife is a low-cost way for family to be able to see their elderly parents with their own eyes, in real time, without invading their privacy. It’s easy to install and operate. In addition to offering a live video feed that a family member can access from anywhere by phone, tablet, or computer, the service will also send real-time alerts about kinds of activity that the family deems important, e.g., the bedroom door opening every morning, or activity on a staircase. The family can log in at any time to see the live feed or a recorded event, and reassure themselves that all is well. Video monitoring can also help the family keep an eye on the personal support workers who come and go in the home to make sure they are treating the parent well.
Children of those who are aging in place should take the time to investigate the new technologies available to help the ones they love live a safer, more satisfying and independent life as long as possible. In the long run, it’s a win-win situation that promises greater quality of life for the aging and can be done in a way that will ensure the peace of mind of their children.
-- Article provided byiWatchLife.com. See what matters today with DIY home video monitoring.