‘Gerotechnology’ Posts

Health care tools and technology- Helping seniors continue to live at home

May 5th, 2016 by Doris Bersing

BrCX0s0CEAEDAyaAfter talking for years about the need of a new paradigm helping seniors to age in place and the important role of healthcare tools and technology to help them continue to live at home, i welcomed with contentment the recommendations of our friend Edward Francis at Foresthc.com.

We have often stressed aging in place as the natural way of aging. Living in your own home for as long as possible is important to many people, especially to seniors. It is full of memories and is comfortable and familiar. This makes it very difficult to leave and, providing your health is adequate there is no reason to move. There are a variety of new tools available which will help any older person keep living comfortably in their home:

Medical alarms

A personal alarm is not a new idea! They have been fitted to homes or carried on your person for many years. If something happens you simply need to press the button for assistance. However, if you are unable to reach the button for any reason then the alarm is useless. Modern technology has now devised fall detection and incorporated it into these alarms.  Should you fall then the alarm will automatically summon assistance. It even has a GOS tracker built in to help the emergency services locate you.

Monitoring your meds

It can sometimes be difficult to remember to take your medication and this can often be the only reason that someone needs to move to a nursing home or an assisted living home. However, there is now a pill dispenser which sounds several alarms and even calls your cell phone to remind you to take your medication. Alongside this you can have sensors fitted to your botles which confirm when the pills were taken and how many. If you miss a dose then a message is sent out to your caregiver for them to follow up.

GPS shoes

Many older people love to walk and enjoy the fresh air. Unfortunately, the city you live in could be rapidly changing and, combined with an impaired cognitive function, you may find yourse
lf lost. A GPS tracker in your shoes will help other to know where you are and locate you, if necessary. This system works best if you set geographical boundaries and even time limits.

Home monitoring systems

Sensors placed around your home will allow your caregiver to build up a picture of your normal movements and any routines you have. The system can then be programmed with this information and any deviation to your usual activity will flag an alert with your caregiver and encourage them to investigate and confirm your health and safety. These sensors can also be used to detect if you have a fall or potentially an unknown illness as your patterns will change. They will even show if someone is in your home that is not you.

Apps

There are now apps available which will allow you to communicate with your caregiver, friends or family with just a few clicks. This can be a pre-set message which simply tells people that you are fine, or you can use a panic button which alerts everyone in a predetermined list that you need assistance. Other apps will also remind you to take your medication or can even direct you back to your home if you have lost your way. Among some of the most efficient, we must mention:

  • BloodPressue iBP
  • Pill Reminder Pro
  • Geriatric Depression Scale
  • Dragon Dictation

Remote monitoring

It is possible to get a wrist band which can track your vitals and connect to a smart phone. The information concerning your vitals can then be relayed to a doctor or caregiver. This will ensure you receive prompt help if needed and that you do not waste the doctor’s time or raise your stress levels by needing to visit a doctor. There is a wide range of items which can be monitored including, heart rate, blood glucose, steps taken, diet, and even time spent sleeping!

Many people are already active on at least one social media site and this can be an excellent way for them to stay in touch with another senior relative. Messages can be kept simple but will provide valuable reassurance, especially if you live a distance away from your family. Seniors can easily live comfortably in their own homes. However, because accidents might happen, it’s certainly a good idea for caregivers to keep an eye on their behavior even from a distance. Apps and monitoring devices are excellent tools. Most of them are quite affordable (some are even free), so it’s definitely a good thing that technology is finally starting to care for the elderly as well but always the high touch is needed to supplement the high tech to effectively help seniors age in place.

Aging in Place: Assistive Technology and Human Touch to Solve the Caregiving Issue

May 4th, 2015 by Doris Bersing

Aging in PlaceWe all know those smart and dynamic elders, who used to be professionals, hard workers, homemakers, very engaged in their communities, who slowly but surely, are aging with aches and pains and diminishing faculties, with some times chronic and debilitating diseases rising in the horizon. We all try to help them to little (or no) avail, since the response is: “I do not need help …I am not moving from my home…I am not going to one of those places full of old people”… Does it sound familiar? If you have an elderly parent or loved one in need of care and help, I am sure you have.

Many studies since 2007 have focused on Aging in Place and what seniors and baby boomers want. Besides being in denial of needing help, elders fear moving into a nursing home and losing their independence more than they fear death, according to a study, “Aging in Place in America,” commissioned by Clarity and The EAR Foundation, which also found that the Baby Boomer children of seniors also fear for their parents. Boomers express particular concern about their parents’ emotional and physical well being should they have to enter a nursing home, finds the study, which examines the attitudes and anxieties of the nation’s elderly population. Although since 1997 AARP survey, we know (89%) of the interviewees answer they wanted to stay at home, and age in place – or live independently, but more than half of those surveyed (53%) are concerned with their ability to do so.

Some of the issues that force older adults out of their homes is not only illness and frailty but houses that do not accommodate their needs, isolation, and lack of support –we know our communities, sad to say, are not equipped with volunteerism enough to help some of these seniors or systems that protect not only the low income ones but the middle class, as well.

Projects like Capable in Baltimore, where volunteers come helping seniors run errands and reach the next community even that day while retrofitting their houses has proven to keep seniors at home longer. The project started as a major research effort in the Baltimore area called the CAPABLE project – it stands for Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders – is sending handymen, nurses and occupational therapists into the homes of hundreds of low-income seniors aging in place to see how far $4,000 can go in preserving people’s independence. The project’s initial success has captured nationwide media attention and piqued the interest of federal officials straining to hold down Medicaid costs. If it can be scaled up and tried nationwide, it could potentially save U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars. The average cost of nursing home care in the U.S. is $6,700 a month, much of it paid through Medicaid, so even postponing a move to a nursing facility by just a few months can have a major impact.

Another well known solution but difficult to implement, on one hand because seniors resistance to technology, and on another because of baby boomers not turning their parents into it, is Gero-technology that can lower the cost of home care when needed and/or help keep seniors independently but safely at home. Aging in a high tech world is not easy for these seniors but there are agencies and resources in the community to help them and their families navigate through the maze of options and what is really needed.

These technologies go from the safety ones to guarantee people are safe at home, and monitor their comes-and-goes, as needed without invasion, to the tablets to communicate with loved ones, receive medication reminders, or access services in the community. Organizations like Living Well use leading-edge technologies to evaluate their members’ health and mental status, reduce the cost of care, communicate medical and other information to physicians and relatives, provide cognitive vitality programming and monitor personal safety. When needed, they will evaluate the layout of the home and undertake modifications to ensure mobility, access, and security. In addition, our professional housekeeping and maintenance staff keep our members’ homes updated, clean, and impeccably maintained.

Just today, May 4, 2015 California Health launched a report discussing the caregiving issue and if really this technology involving social networking and technology will “…save the day for one of America’s most intractable social problems — caring for the country’s aging population? The article proposes a different way of hiring caregivers but still posits the issue of just having a caregiver. One size does not fit all and for some of our loved ones just low-tech or high tech intervention can save the day. Now if in need of home care, options are there with agencies as the article states charging more than what a privately hired caregiver could cost but no- back up, or services that will monitor the process for you, and more. Read the article.

In reality, the high tech and high touch is a better answer. It is not only technology but the human connection what makes a real answer: personal services and advanced assistive technology can add a strong measure of comfort, convenience and control to those that desire to remain at home but have conditions that may limit their ability to move freely, communicate effectively or otherwise navigate their environment. Together they can ensure and encourage those that desire to age in place the opportunity to do so with safety and choices for the seniors and peace of mind for family members and friends. Check all the options and remember one size-does-not-fit all.

Technology Integration for Aging in Place: Finally?

June 27th, 2014 by Doris Bersing

Living Well AssistDHP-Infographic160pxed Living at Home have been rallying and actually praying, literally,  for an integrated solution that addresses safety and health monitoring, fall detection and social engagement, since March of 2008 when the Center for Aging Services Technologies released a useful report on the state of technology in aging services.

We have met innovators, engineers, developers, business people, and anybody who wanted to present us “their” solution. We took the road with our high tech – high touch solution, although the gadgets and gizmos are many, an integrated platform was needed. Now, it seems that after much of dreaming, we can be closer. Philips & Salesforce had created a partnership that offers e-Care Coordinator and e-Care Companion that are new developer-friendly apps that work”… as a data management hub for patients and enable healthcare providers to view data from hundreds to thousands of patients from one dashboard: Philips and Salesforce envision that apps will cover the continuum of care: from self-care and prevention, to diagnosis and treatment through recovery and wellness. The envisioned platform, based on the Salesforce1 Platform, will enable collaboration and workflow, as well as integration of data from multiple sources worldwide, including electronic medical records, diagnostic and treatment information obtained through Philips’ imaging equipment, monitoring equipment, personal devices and technologies like Apple’s HealthKit. Moreover, the cloud-based platform is designed to be highly scalable with built-in privacy and data security. By combining the data, the platform will allow for analysis that will enhance decision making by professionals and engage patients. Both Philips and Salesforce foresee that the platform, will utilize Philips’ clinical data stores and medical device interoperability. It is intended to be open to developers and is expected to result in a vibrant ecosystem of partners creating applications. As a result, the envisioned platform has the potential to transform both professional healthcare delivery and continuous personal health management…” Read More

Home Gadgets That Keep Seniors Safe to Age in Place

October 16th, 2013 by Doris Bersing

Safety at Home26 OTIwMDMxOTA0NC5qcGc=By Glenn Jensen (*)

Ninety-five percent of people over the age of 75 say they want to spend the rest of their lives at home, according to Caring.com. It makes sense — who wouldn’t want to live out their retirement in their own home, surrounded by mementos and completely free? But it’s not always so easy for children who have aging parents set on staying at home. What if Mom forgets to take lifesaving medication? What if Dad falls and can’t get to a phone to call for help? The latest technology solves those problems, giving you options to preserve your peace of mind and your aging parents’ dignity and privacy. The best part? It’s less expensive than a nursing home (by far!) and gives your parents the independence they need to stay in the home they love.

Staying in Touch: Cell Phones for the Elderly

Some aging folks say they wouldn’t use a cellphone even in case of emergency, citing too-small number pads, difficult-to-hear speakers and other issues. But phones like the Jitterbug make it easy for aging folks to use a cell phone, whether they want it for regular use or just in case of emergencies.The Jitterbug offers bigger buttons, louder speakers and a straightforward monthly plan starting at $14.99 per month.

Medication Reminders

If you’re worried that your parents won’t remember to take their medications on time, there are options that can help. Automatic pill reminders take a variety of forms, from a watch that sounds and/or vibrates when it’s time to take medication, to a pill case that dispenses the right combination of medications at the right times of day and sends an alert to your email account if it’s not opened when it should be. Pill dispensers with alarms start around $50 through Med-E-Alert; they sound an alarm when it’s time to take another dose of medication.

Personal Emergency Response Systems

It’s one of the top concerns for people with aging parents: what happens if Mom or Dad falls and can’t get to a phone? With a personal emergency response system (PERS), your loved one will always have an emergency alert device, usually on a pendant, that will connect them with help at the push of a button. Lifeline Systems offers a no-contract system starting at just $30 per month.

Home Security Systems

What if someone breaks into the house? Home monitoring systems offer security and peace of mind for your elderly family. LifeShield offers packages starting around $30 per month for burglary and theft monitoring, environmental (heat, cold, flood), medical and carbon monoxide monitoring. Other packages include fire monitoring or video surveillance for even more security. If your parents are home alone much of the time, a home security system can give you peace of mind about leaving them home alone — and alert you if something goes wrong.

Glenn is a smartphone fanatic from Alaska who is always abreast of the latest mobile trends.

Technology To Stay at Home and Age in Place

September 23rd, 2013 by Doris Bersing

Living Well Senior Care in San Francisco(From HUFFPOST 23 Sep 2013)

Dr. Ruth Bettelheim advocates for the use of new technology that would enable disabled people to live independently and elders to age in place. Dr. Bettelheim said,  recently on a post at the Huffington Post Blog the following: “…We’ve already waited too long to put the digital revolution to work for our most vulnerable. As a nation, though, we can do more to create new, affordable options for patients and their families.

At Living Well Assisted Living at Home, we have advocated for long time for the use of Gero-technology that will lower the cost of home care. Mainly in urban cities like San Francisco and the greater Bay Area senior care services and home care can be very high and prohibitive, creating a huge burden to family members and loved ones. Although as Dr. Bettelheim says “…there isn’t an app yet for keeping a mentally challenged patient safe in her own home with dignity and privacy. But national fiscal interest, moral integrity, and our own self-interest, dictate that there should be..” and yes indeed, these days there are many user friendly and low cost technologies,  to give choices to elders and peace of mind to family members.
The article continues also praising the possibilities that these technologies bring to family members who care for mentally challenged individuals: “…Recent technological advances offer the possibility of restoring independence and dignity to mentally challenged adults while easing the burden on families, for a fraction of current costs.

In a nation that values liberty and the pursuit of happiness, there are few greater tragedies than the routine incarceration of millions of individuals who suffer from mental disabilities, developmental impairments, or the debilitating dementia that affects up to 25% of our elderly population. However, recent technological advances offer the possibility of restoring independence and dignity to mentally challenged adults while easing the burden on families, for a fraction of current costs…”

Read the post

Yet another reason to age in place

September 9th, 2013 by Doris Bersing

High Tech High Touch.pptA good friend of mine who is a estate planner lawyer (Elizabeth Krivatsy) shared with me, this link via e-mail and call it “…Yet another reason to age in place…” The article refers to fatal cases in an assisted living facility in San Diego that raise questions about family choices, and state oversight. The article continues with a staggering statistic where “…at least 27 San Diego County seniors have died since 2008 from injuries and neglect suffered in the facilities…”

This brings up the recent “boom” of aging in place and although perhaps aging in place is not for everybody, it seems that 99% of us want to age in our homes.

The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

In December 2011, AARP Policy Institute and the National Conference of State Legislatures released a report entitled, “Aging in Place: A State Survey of Livability Policies and Practices”to foster aging in place by giving state legislators examples of how laws, policies and programs can support this goal. In addition to such governmental initiatives, livability can be optimized through the incorporation of universal design principles, telecare and other assistive technologies. Assistive technologies include communications, health and wellness monitoring, home safety and security. Semico Research published a report in July 2013 claiming the health and wellness monitoring market for Aging in Place will reach $30 billion by 2017.

Purposeful aging in place has grown in popularity and celebrated by the National Aging in Place Week and the National Aging in Place Council that promotes the positive outcomes of older adults having a choice in their care and living arrangements. In addition to Home Care Agencies,  there are many more professionals trained to fill the growing need in this service model for older adults. Industries that have special programs or certifications include Real Estate, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Relocation specialists. Communities are now fully engaged and committed to exploring ways to better serve older adults by developing action plans that address future needs and ensure that the necessary services are in place when they are needed.Recognizing that a home is filled with memories and is more than just a place to stay, companies are engaged in accommodating the elderly for years of comfortable living. As they age in place and their needs evolve, companies adapt services to meet the changes so that the homes remain well-kept and comfortable. Living Well specializes in providing gero-technology with specialized care (high tech  and high touch) to keep seniors at home and although it is a no brainer solution for us, many elders and/or family members do not trust the new venue and find that the only option is to move away from home and then issues like the ones depicted in this article, which is not an isolated issue, make us think about how to make an effort to really give elders a choice and peace of mind to family members.

Read the article

Online Habits Coming Slowly to Older Adults

April 9th, 2013 by Doris Bersing

 

keyboard-button-2075_640Living Well High Tech part of the High Tech – High Touch equation of care could be a reality for older adults. Paula Span wrote on The New York Times “…Older adults hit a digital milestone last year: For the first time since the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project began conducting surveys, a majority (53 percent) of people over age 65 used the Internet. The proportion has since inched upward, to 54 percent.

Which certainly represents progress. When Pew first began tracking Internet use in 2000, only 13 percent of seniors were online. But it remains a fairly anemic number compared to the rest of the adult population, more than 80 percent of whom use the Internet…”

Perhaps the resistance is diminishing…slowly but surely, the road to gero-tecnology helping older adults to age in place can be a reality soon.

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