By: Diane Keefe, Geriatric Care Manager
With children often spread from one coast to the other, there is often concern that someone needs to physically look after their parent. Now there are aids to help older adults to stay in their home safely and with adequate monitoring to make sure they are taking their medications regularly and there is movement in the home.
Here are some of the exciting new technologies available:
These pill dispensers make sure the patient takes the pill on time and in the correct dosage. http://www.epill.com/dispenser.html?source=google&gclid=COvKj7S9mqsCFUYEQAodfnLFlg
Phillips Lifeline has a medication alert system that is tied to the seniors phone so that someone is called when the older adult misses a dosage. http://www.lifelinesys.com/content/home
It is estimated that 13.3 million persons 65 and over will fall this year and only half will be able to get up.
The LifeProtekt wrist device comes with a GPS/GSM/and RF personal locator that is worn like a watch, and an iPod-size portable receiver that a caregiver can carry. This will allow the caregiver to set fixed or portable safe zones in and outdoors. If the safe zone is crossed, they are immediately alerted and can use the smart phone or computer to locate the loved one using Google map technology. There’s even a panic button, with built in false-alarm protection, for those who are higher functioning. It’s ideal for: wandering prevention, elderly care, and those who are cognitively impaired. http://www.lifeprotekt.com/category/alzheimers-disease/
Phillips Lifeline has a pendant that allows the wearer to push a button to reach attendants who can summon help. They also offer one with an alert system that can detect falls and automatically summon assistance. http://www.lifelinesys.com/content/home
Active Care offers a Personal Assistant Link that provides emergency services if a fall is detected and has a GPS locator that pinpoints the location of the wearer. http://www.activecare.com/pal
The eNeighbor remote monitoring system uses a series of small, unobtrusive sensors that work together to monitor a resident’s daily routine. http://www.healthsense.com/index.php/products/remote-monitoring
Mulberry Gardens offers a system that utilizes sensors to detect motion and possible falls but while still respecting privacy. http://www.mulberrygardens.org/Content/QuietCare.asp
Video intercoms are the newest solution for the home security system. With a video intercom, a person can see who is at the door before it is opened. http://www.gadgetshack.com/wired-camera-intercom-systems.html
These are only a few of the providers who now have systems that can sense movement and falls. Many more are in the works.
Vital Signs Monitoring:
Honeywell HomMed’s Sentry Telehealth Monitor can quickly collect and securely transmit data on five key vital signs: heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, temperature, and weight. http://www.hommed.com/products/sentry_telehealth_monitor-total-solution.asp
This home blood pressure monitor allows the elderly to check their blood pressure without tiring trips to the doctors. http://www.gadgetshack.com/blood-pressure-monitors.html
Stair Lifts help seniors who need assistance getting up and down the stairs. http://usa.acornstairlifts.com/? source=google&adg=us&u2=Stairlift_High_Volume_b&gclid=CN3A387MmqsCFSEEQAodvUnFiw
Skype can be used today to see grandchildren who live far away from grandparents.
Software is being developed to assist in managing chronic diseases and monitoring progress especially after a hospital stay.
Geriatric Care Managers will be using Skype via Caring Bridge to connect with family members.
These beds help patients who are too frail to get themselves up. It also assists acid reflux persons. http://www.medlift.com/index.cfm?action=b14&id=19353,7257&pgurl=AdjustableBeds
Scooters allow older adults to get around their homes and communities when they are mobility challenged.
Automatic Prescription/Medical Supplies
Technology on the internet allows seniors to have their prescriptions delivered to their home. http://www.aetnarxhomedelivery.com/
Access to internet allows seniors to have their incontinence supplies delivered to their house. http://www.hdis.com/?cid=200052&dest=1&gclid=CODkgp7QmqsCFUYEQAodfnLFlg
The Caregiver Partnership offers medical & personal care supplies and provides resources in many categories. www.caregiverpartnership.com, www.caregiverpartnership.com/resources/categories/
Technology to Increase Balance & Coordination:
This is an article on how studies have shown that even just a few sessions with the Wii has led to improved balance, coordination and strength, and could prevent falls, a serious concern for many seniors. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/02/physical-video-games-may-help-the-elderly-psychologically/71184/
TZone Vibration system was developed by the Russian space astronauts to maintain their muscular fitness. It can help older adults to maintain muscle tone and coordination. It improves bone density. www.tzonevibrationtech.com/
By placing miniaturized 2-way GPS technology in shoes, Andrew Carle who coined the term “Nana” Technologies for describing technology for older adults says the GPS Shoe has the potential to be life saving for those afflicted and their caregivers. They were developed by GTX Corporation and will be distributed by Aetrex Worldwide, Inc.
This mailbox alert system informs the owner when the mail has come each day. This allows the elderly to only make one trip out to the mailbox. http://www.gadgetshack.com/mailbox-alert-mail-letter.html
Future Technology in the Works:
Technology is part of every area of our lives. There are many universities working on products that will assist seniors as they age. Here are just a few of the items under development:
- Intel is working on an intelligent phone for persons with dementia that will utilize Caller ID to display a picture of the person, the relationship to the person being called and a little about their last conversation.
- Medication Minders are already on the market that can alert the individual at the appropriate time to take medications. There are some systems that are connected to a pharmacy and lets them know when a person has missed a dosage and the history of their compliance with medications.
- Walkers are being developed that will come to the person via remote control and can steer around obstacles. Smart canes can detect an impending fall, monitor gait and balance.
- Medicine cabinet online is being developed by Accenture, a company in Chicago. It will be able to identify the user; tell them when the wrong medicine is about to be taken and automatically reorder medications. It will also set up doctor’s appointments.
- Robotic nurses will be able to carry patients that are too heavy for caregivers or who have fallen and need assistance getting up.
- Computer games are being programmed to enhance cognition and monitor changes over time that can predict oncoming dementia.
- Tracking systems will be available for someone at risk of wandering. This will aid caregivers as to the location of the person they are monitoring.
- Afferent Corporation in Boston is ready to introduce a balance booster that will sense when balance is unsteady and stimulate parts of the foot to help right the individual.
With 20% of the population being 65 and over by the year 2030, technology will continue to assist in caring for elders and helping them remain in the home. Because the number of potential caregivers has shrunk to a 4:1 ratio, it means fewer people will be available to help older adults. Technology will help to fill that void.