As we age we are slower to adapt to new technologies. Conversely, as we age if we do accept new technologies we are better able to stay in touch with friends and family and age in place. There are myriad technologies that allow seniors to age in place and they go beyond adding grab bars in the bathroom.
From carrying a cell phone with easy-to-read buttons and pre-programmed emergency phone numbers to personal medical alert devices that allow individuals to use them when they’re on the go, introducing seniors to new technologies could add to the peace of mind of the entire family. There are numerous products on the market today that can detect when an individual has taken a fall, to medication dispensers with alarms to shoes and devices with GPS tracking devices embedded that make aging in place more of a reality than it has been.
Personal emerge response systems: If you’re a caregiver to an active senior, making an investment in a PERS (personal emergency response system) allows them to be protected at home, at work or on the go. These devices are equipped with a GPS device as well as the “push of a button” technology that offers easy access to emergency assistance. Carrying a cell phone is ideal, but in an emergency situation, the time it takes to access the phone, unlock it and dial for help could be too long for personal comfort. The LifeFone PERS is a device that is easy to wear and access at all times at home and away from home.
Some of these devices offer fall detection. LifeFone’s Fall Detection Pendant automatically sends an alarm to the emergency response center if a fall occurs. However, since no fall detection system detects 100% of falls, this pendant is also equipped with a standard help button for added security.
Automatic medication dispensers. These devices allow the caregiver to load it with the aging relative’s medication and set a timer that will dispense the medication at designated times. It’s been shown that many times an individual has to move into an assisted living facility because of the inability to remember to take medications or taking them too frequently and that can lead to a drug interaction or reaction.
Motion and light sensors: Installing motion activated lights in the house in darkened hallways or in the bathroom or bedroom for those who get out of bed in the middle of the night can be literal lifesavers. You can purchase motion activated lights or lights that can be set to timers that coincide with your aging loved one’s habits. There are also motion detection systems that offer caregivers access to the motion of the individual. For example, there could be a motion detection device in front of the refrigerator or one that lets them know when the computer is turned on. This way, the caregiver knows if their loved one deviates from their usual routine.
An enhanced telephone system. There are telephones with overly large buttons for those whose eyesight is failing and there are telephones that show photos of family members that the individual can simply push to be connected – no dialing involved. Phones that can enhance sound for those who are hard of hearing and telephones that have flashing lights to notify a hard of hearing individual of an incoming call are also available.
Easy to use computers. One of the best ways for long distance family members to stay in touch is through the use of a computer and there are many on the market that are easy to learn and can be configured to suit your aging loved one’s needs. For example you could get a computer and set up Skype or Facebook and have a way for your family to stay in touch and share photos. This is also a great way to keep in touch by scheduling weekly phone calls. Skype is ideal because you can not only talk, but you can see who you’re talking to and that is a great way for your aging loved one to feel connected with everyone.
There may be a learning curve for everyone involved in getting accustomed to the new technologies but once learned, they provide a way for long distance family members and caregivers to stay connected and to provide peace of mind for the entire family.