New technologies now make it possible to monitor the health and wellness of a loved one 24/7. Solutions range from pendant worn personal emergency response (or PERS) devices, to house systems which combine communication stations, motion sensor, and fall detection. Solutions also exist for daily tasks, such as taking medication, keeping appointments, even walking the dog!
Choosing a Solution
Such systems are offered at a range of prices and choice of solution; therefore, consider the following:
Will the solution be accepted?
No one likes to feel like we’re being watched. Systems which use cameras or are ‘obvious to what they are’ can embarrass and agitate a loved one. Ideally, the system includes a ‘social component’ such as a base station which can securely communicate with the loved ones and even be used to share books, media and other content. This can be presented as the primary reason why the solution is being introduced, improving acceptance.
Will the solution be used?
Solutions which do not require pendants or other ‘wearables’ are often advantageous. Wearables can be forgotten or not accepted because of stigma. Still, for some, wearables may be ok; therefore, conversations about what both parties feel is best are essential.
Many technologies have motion activated sensors and other solutions which help to monitor activity in the home. For instance, a monitor in the kitchen could alert if no motion is sensed in the morning when otherwise it would have been.
Is the solution affordable?
Systems can range from simple pendant solutions which can cost $30 – $40 a month, to systems costing several hundred dollars a month. Some systems also require equipment purchase. In considering what’s best, one should think of how it affects the total cost of care and support. For instance, it may be the next best thing if paid or family caregivers are unavailable to monitor someone at night.
Types of Solutions:
In Home Safety and Emergency Response
Medical alert and personal emergency response systems are typically what we think of in this category – think: ‘I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’.
Installing sensors, security cameras, and smart home devices can also go a long way in keeping your loved one safe in their home. There are a host of devices which safeguard the home:
- In-Home safety technologies;
- Smart lights can turn on/off with a verbal command or sensor;
- Smart stove shut off or alert systems for unattended stoves;
- Bed sensors which alert when your loved one is out of bed;
- Temperature-activated flow reducers which cut off the flow when the water gets too hot.
Communication and Social
The Siris and Alexas of the world can help answer questions, talk about news or weather, or play music. But sometimes a simple phone call can make a world of difference.
Get peace of mind with a quick check in, but know you’re providing a much-needed and meaningful interaction. While some older loved ones may not be the most tech-savvy, you can set them up with a simpler phone with bigger buttons, larger screens and easy-to-read menus. Plus, there are lots of options with large displays, verbal caller ID, even compatibility with hearing aids.
It’s also important to see your loved one face-to-face (even through a screen!). There are a ton of great apps with easy-to-use interfaces like FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts.
Making sure your loved one takes their medication can be a challenge, especially from afar. And for some, forgetting to take a pill, or taking one at the wrong time could lead to serious health complications.
New options are now available to help with this. Many pharmacies offer pre-sorted pill packs to make taking multiple prescriptions earlier. “Smart” pillboxes automate dispensing in the home and offer medication reminders. Other devices such as smartphones, smart speakers and tablets can also be used to set reminders to take medications.