Technology to Keep Seniors at Home During COVID
The coronavirus pandemic has swept the world, and with it has come changes to our way of life. Mask wearing has become the ubiquitous sign of the times, and the word ‘lockdown’ is commonplace. It has meant that many of us have retreated to the perceived safety of our homes. But, for some people, this presents its own challenges. What do you do if your loved one needs a little extra care but is not comfortable letting others into their home, let alone moving into a community?
While most senior communities have done extraordinary work to keep their residents and staff safe during this pandemic, there are those individuals that feel that they would rather weather this storm from their homes before making the move. For those that would rather not have people inside their homes, what other options are there? One option is the use of technology.
In recent years, the market has exploded, with several companies offering a plethora of products. Many people are familiar with the pendent system, equipped with a button to push in the event of an emergency, but this is just a small sampling of what is available. There are now automated medication dispensers, Bluetooth blood-oxygen monitors, and monitoring apps for phones that can allow seniors to be safer in their homes to name just a few types available. There are many companies that offer similar products. On the surface, most technology for senior care might look the same, and the temptation might be to go with the lowest price. The previously mentioned pendent system (called a Personal Emergency Response System, or PERS) is a very common device; with the push of a button, help would be on the way. However, not all of them have automatic fall monitoring, which can be an important feature.
Beyond just the pendant system, there are many programs in the marketplace that integrate monitoring devices with digital apps, allowing for both caregiver and medical professional oversight. One product, for instance, couples data reported by the customer with a care navigator or nurse. In cases of concern, such as high blood pressure or low-blood sugar, they can step in with the appropriate intervention to ensure the safety of your family member. Also, in cases where medication is a concern, there are devices on the market that are automated, dispensing only the appropriate dose at a given time. If medication isn’t taken in the appropriate window, a notification will be sent to the caregiver.
Another interesting piece of technology is a watch/phone device targeted to the senior population. It has the ability to store up to ten designated contacts, which are the only contacts able to call in. This provides added protection from telemarketers or other scam calls for our vulnerable clients. It includes the one-button emergency call option, which is preset by the caregiver. This can include 911. It has the option to have reminders loaded into it, including medication reminders and doctor appointments. A unique feature of this device is that is has a "border" setting, allowing a notification that will go off if an individual leaves a set area. This passive monitoring is coupled with an active monitoring system, so caregivers can log in through an app and see where the wearer is. In an emergency, a button on the app will give the caregiver directions to the wearer's location.
The use of technology can provide relatively inexpensive support to help your loved-one extend their stay in the home, and CarePatrol of Western Michigan has been working with several companies to try to make the selection process for personal in-home technology easier. Whether you are looking for a simple PERS device or something with a little more monitoring, we can point you in the right direction. And when the time comes that staying in the home is no longer an viable option, we have help make recommendations for independent living, assisted living, memory care, and in-home care.