October 2011 – Technology for Senior Independence

With children often spread from one coast to the other, there is often concern that someone needs to 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:
Wrist-Emergency-Response-System
Electronic Pill Dispensers:
These pill dispensers make sure the patient takes the pill on time and in the correct dosage.
Monitors to detect motion/falls:
It is estimated that 13.3 million persons 65 and over will fall this year and only half will be able to get up. Phillips Lifeline, Active Care, LifeProtekt, eNeighbor and Mulberry Gardens offer these systems. Many more providers advertise online.
Video intercoms:
These devices 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. This system is available through Gadget Shack online.
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. There are many home systems that help older adults monitor their own blood pressure.
Stair Lifts:
Stair Lifts help seniors who need assistance getting up and down the stairs.

Adjustable beds
Software:
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.
Adjustable Beds:
These beds help patients who are too frail to get themselves up. It also assists acid reflux persons.
Technology to Increase Balance & Coordination:
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. The 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.
Scooters/Assistive Devices:
Scooters allow older adults to get around their homes and communities when they are mobility challenged.
Walkers come in many different forms. It is important for a specialist to fit the walker to the user.
Automatic Prescription/Medical Supplies Delivery:
Technology on the internet allows seniors to have their prescriptions and incontinence products delivered to their home.
Wandering Safeguards:
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.
Mailbox Alert
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.
These are just a few of the systems that have been developed to aid older adults. Much more is in the works. With the number of potential caregivers available to assist older adults dwindling to a 4:1 ratio (Area Agency on Aging Report), it will be imperative to have good technology to help older adults stay in their homes.

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