Family caregivers and their senior loved ones who remain at home receiving any form of care increasingly realize their safety will rely greatly on technology in the future.
There are already many tech innovations that are helping and more in the pipeline to improve the quality of life and safety as they age in place.
For example, one in six consumers own and use wearable tech.
According to eMarketer in October 2015, of people using the internet, adults 65 years and older accounted for 15.1% of the wearable market in 2016 and project the number will grow to 20.7% n 2019.
They feel that US adults 65 and older will see the biggest growth rates for wearable adoption.
Have you or your senior seen the value in wearable technology yet and adopted one or more devices?
Technology in Home Care Study
A recent study performed by home care startup HHAeXchange of 250 home care users found that the biggest challenges to using wearables in home care were:
- Home care industry slow to adopt new technology 52%
- Caregivers disregard alerts 39.7%
- Technology is not capable enough yet 25.2%
- No Wi-Fi in home 14.1%
Wearable technology could monitor not just the seniors at home but also the caregivers paid to provide home care and report back to family caregivers.
Preventing fraud and abuse in the home could be achieved using technology and wearables, according to this survey.
They found there were other areas in which current and future wearable technology could serve a purpose for family caregivers and seniors receiving home care including:
- 52% said it could alert home care providers about unusual changes in activity level, heart rate, or temperature
- 2% saw value in reminding providers about things like appointments, prescriptions, and meal times
- 8% thought wearables would send real-time alerts from a home care agency to a member or their emergency contact
- 39% hoped wearables could diagnose potential ailments in home care recipients
Overall, two thirds said wearables would be an important part of the future of home care.
What Wearables Are Seniors Using Now?
Wearables is a growing industry and their use is not the domain of millennials. It has been estimated that by 2019 there will be 5.5 billion users of mobile and wearable biometric technology around the globe.
It might be interesting to remember that seniors were actually the first adopters of wearable technology when millions began using Lifeline call buttons in the home.
Many seniors are wearing devices and using other tech innovations to keep them safe and healthy at home. These devices also help family caregivers stay in the loop on what is happening with their senior loved ones when they aren’t home with them.
The wearables that seniors are using can be placed into specific categories depending on the solution they offer:
There are many wearables on the market that can help seniors be safer at home. Many of these are worth the investment for family caregivers and some are specific to the needs of your seniors.
- GPS trackers – there are a variety of types of trackers that can be employed by caregivers. There are embedded trackers in the soles of your senior’s shoes or some that look like a watch. These devices are especially helpful for seniors who tend to wander or get lost.
- Monitors – there are monitors that will pattern their behavior so that when there is a concern, family caregivers will be alerted. The alert could be that they didn’t go to the kitchen or the bathroom as usual, they may have stayed in bed longer or not gone to bed at night. These changes in pattern often signal medical issues that are best addressed quickly. You may want a monitor that alerts you to falls or if the thermostat is not appropriate for the weather (too hot or cold or off altogether) or if they breached the exit.
- Hip protection – if your senior is prone to falls, how would they like a belt that has airbags that open in case of a fall to protect fragile hips from fracture?
- PERS – personal emergency response systems are still alive and well and getting more fashionable as time goes by. They also now use Bluetooth technology which allows seniors to leave home and still be able to get benefits in case of emergency while they run errands or visit friends.
Health monitors abound for seniors with chronic diseases who require closer testing of certain medical or biometric measures such as weight, heart rate, oxygen levels or blood sugars. The beauty of these trackers is to intervene before an emergency occurs.
- Pulse Ox trackers for seniors with lung issues can alert caregivers when a medical crisis looms.
- Blood pressure cuffs that are no longer cuffs. There are several currently available or coming to market that don’t require the typical monitoring apparatus. One is so easy that your senior only needs to hold to their fingertip to get a blood pressure reading.
- Sleep sensors can alert caregivers if their seniors are sleeping at night, how long they sleep, the quality of their sleep and if modifications need to be made to their sleep environment to allow for restful sleep.
- Activity trackers are used by many younger people but older adults are also adopting them to monitor their own health through physical activity tracking. Many bands now also manage how much a person drinks or how well they sleep which can be important data for seniors too. This information is then easily shared with a physician. Several also monitor heart rate and many seniors want to know this information when they participate in activity. You are never too old to improve your health and staying motivated with an activity tracker can help.
- Cardiac monitors that can allow heart patients to stay active while monitoring their heart rhythm. Data is sent to their physician in real-time.
- Medication reminders from your watch? Yes, this is available. A voice controlled device that also alerts your senior that it is time for medicine, detects falls, and calls for help. A device that rolls the functions of some of the other tech products into one is in development and expects to hit the market soon.
- Health monitors that are discreet and stick directly onto the skin of our seniors is another new way that healthcare providers can monitor seniors with complex medical needs. Biometric data is sent from the skin right to the doctor via a mobile app that even caregivers can read.
- Stick-on skin monitors also be used to detect how much sun exposure your senior has gotten and could even tell caregivers about air quality wherever their seniors are in order to protect people with breathing problems from poor air quality.
These applications are just the tip of the iceberg and you can find a multitude of apps for your smartphones that will bring you even more peace of mind for their safety and health.
Family caregivers may not think that their seniors will want wearable technology and many wonder who will pay for it, but your senior might surprise you with their willingness to use it — and love it when they get it.
What price are you (or they) willing to pay for their health and safety?