As family caregivers look to their communities and technology innovators to help them bring a better quality of life to their aging in place seniors, there are experts trying to improve this model for successful aging with them in mind.
Seniors and their family caregivers have different needs and desires for how they wish to address aging in place.
One senior may be playing golf three times a week while another struggles just to take a walk outside and get the mail.
How can we help each senior and caregiver live life on their own terms as successfully as possible?
Can technology enable improved quality of life for seniors and family caregivers?
Caregivers Guidance System
IBM created a system to test innovations and tech designs to be sure they will yield person-centered solutions for aging.
According to IBM, the Periodic Table of Technology Supported Ageing was drawn from the experience of hundreds of specialists, research, studies and dozens of deployed capabilities, IBM’s ageing-focused leaders have developed a “periodic table” providing a taxonomy and a common global reference framework for all actors aiming to build successful technologies and tech-enabled services for aging.
Tech for Seniors and Caregivers
IBM’s periodic table highlights some points that family caregivers can use to determine what technology will work best for their seniors.
The table can focus caregivers needs and decisions about what types of technology will help their seniors.
The starting point in this table is the self or person.
Here are topics that will help you narrow down which tech innovations will be helpful.
1. Roles: who will use or innovate
Family, friends, policy makers, providers
2. Objective: what problem needs a solution
Learning, happiness, health, sustainability, safety, inclusion, behavior, recreation, caring
3. Places: where will the technology be used
Family spaces, outdoor, community, medical facilities, workplace
4. Adoption: what will influence its actual use
Relevance, user experience, confidence, value
5. Dimensions: what areas will be targeted
Daily life, mental, financial, physical, spiritual, cognitive, purposeful, social
6. Value tests: what measures will be used to determine success
Human experience, market validation, proof of concept, pilot, design, testing
Solutions for Problems Equal Opportunity
IBM has a history of turning a problem into opportunity.
Family caregivers have many problems that require solutions. These solutions can and will be opportunities for technology innovations and manufacturers in the future (and in the now!).
However, caregivers need to find solutions that fit their senior and improve their personal experience. This is not an easy undertaking for family caregivers with too little time to research the latest gadgets that promise much more than they seemingly deliver.
Giving them strategies to decide what product or innovation will actually yield tangible benefits is vital.
Many family caregivers fear the money some of these technology solutions cost. They more often than not will be the one paying for these solutions.
However, the cost of an item may be insignificant compared to the value it brings into the life of our senior loved ones.
Tech provides no value, as we already know, if our seniors won’t use it.
Adopting it is only the first step. Can it be sustained and is it worthy of daily use?
These are all hefty considerations for family caregivers.
Hopefully this chart will help guide you when making decisions about the who, how, when and where of adopting aging in place technology to improve our seniors’ quality of life.
Technology for seniors can be daunting for many family caregivers. Here are some more articles about technology that you and your senior may find useful.