Remember when your mother had the neighbor look in on your grandmother, perhaps under the guise of borrowing a cup of sugar? Fast forward to the age of smart technology, and now you can check on Dad by using your iPhone to track steps on his Fitbit when you’re eight hours and a time zone away. In fact, there are all kinds of new digital products to help with long-distance caregiving.
According to CNN Health, the 65-and-older population in the United States is projected to nearly double by the year 2050, reaching 83.7 million. Research conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) shows that some 90% of these seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age.
With the click of a mouse or a visit to your local pharmacy, you’ll find more and more smart technologies that can help senior adults age in place. Along with honoring their wishes, high-tech monitoring systems and equipment are giving caregivers the peace of mind that comes with knowing their loved ones are safe.
This tech not only eases the minds of their loved ones, but also the seniors themselves. As the experts at Redfin point out, for seniors who need basic assistance and want to remain at home, these services are an attractive option. And, depending on the amount of care required, they can be a more affordable option as well. For example, in Washington D.C., a resident could spend $3,000 on care services and $2,787 on their mortgage, and still spend less than the $5,933 it would take to live in an assisted living facility.
More equipment and services that can help
Even though Mom loves you, she may not need to hear from you six times a day if you place non-invasive sensors in various locations in her condominium, such as in her bedroom, on the refrigerator, or near the medicine cabinet. These devices alert you if she hasn’t left her bed for several hours during the day or hasn’t been to the refrigerator since dinner last night. An emergency pendant Dad wears on his wrist or around his neck can alert 911 if he falls, and he can press a button if he experiences a medical emergency.
While devices that alert you about Dad’s steps or Mom’s daily activity around the house are extremely helpful, nothing can replace the joy that comes with seeing them smile as you share news about your new promotion or your son’s report card. Video chatting offers you a wonderful way to check on your loved ones from miles away. The National Coalition on Aging (NCOA) recommends setting 15-30 minutes aside once a week to talk. Engage your loved ones in real conversation by asking them for advice about how they lived through various situations. While they tell their stories, pay attention to their appearance and ability to hear and understand the discussion.
Telemedicine and help for seniors
While Mom might still love living on the family farm way outside of town, it’s hard for her to get to her doctor who lives in the city. Telemedicine can offer rural residents like her a way to receive expert diagnoses and treatment from distant medical practices. According to Internet Innovation Alliance, telemedicine can help professionals detect urgent health conditions sooner, provide faster access to patients’ medical history, and support first responders through the use of wireless devices.
Look, listen and visit
From the text messages we receive about hair appointments, oil changes and soccer practices to the websites we surf to find the best new television set or food processor, technology has changed the way we live. While technology offers us conveniences we could only dream of 20 years ago, try to take the time to visit Mom and Dad as often as possible. When you get to their house, look around to be sure things look like they are in good order. Does the living room still look nice? Are Dad’s khakis still pressed with a razor-sharp crease? Is Mom still getting her hair done regularly? Small clues can help you address potential health risks before they become emergencies.
More and more seniors want to spend their retirement in the comfort of their own homes without being under the constant watch of a caregiver. Thanks to technology like sensors, medical alert devices, video chatting and telemedicine, moms and dads everywhere are able to do so in a way that brings peace of mind to their loved ones and themselves.