5 Assistive Technology Products for Aging in Place
5 Assistive Technology Products for Aging in Place
Advances in technology have allowed us to accomplish some pretty remarkable things. We have access to 24/7 information at our fingertips, we can measure health vitals at home with a push of a button, and there are cars that drive themselves, but some of the most life-changing innovations in technology may be those tools designed to help seniors age in place.
Assistive technology for seniors may not be as glamorous as a car that will automatically parallel park for you, but it can make a bigger impact on seniors and their families than we could imagine. When seniors or their loved ones start to notice changes in physical and mental abilities, it can be heart-wrenching to consider that you may not be able to live independently. Innovations in technology are changing the way we talk about independent living.
Determining your needs & finding solutions. Before you jump to the conclusion you need to move out of your home and into an assisted living facility, consider your needs honestly and objectively. You don’t have to do this alone. Take advantage of resources available to you:
- Sit down with family members or close friends
- Discuss your concerns with your primary physician
- Follow up with appointments to any specialists recommended
When you experience changes in your health or behavior, talk to a trusted family member or close friend about your concerns. Make a list of the activities you are struggling to perform, and any changes you’ve noticed in your physical or mental health. A loved one might have noticed something you haven’t – and you want to have a comprehensive list of your concerns when you visit your doctor.
It is crucial that you make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss any and all changes you’ve experienced that can affect your ability to live on your own. Your doctor can help address any concerns you have and can help diagnose changes in your physical or mental health. Take a family member or friend with you to the appointment if they are available, or use technology to include them from a remote location. Having a trusted adviser present can help you digest the information and ask questions regarding the medical concerns you may have, so use video conferencing, FaceTime, or Skype to include someone you trust in the conversation.
If you need more specialized help in determining the cause of a decline in certain areas, you may need to follow up with other medical professionals. If you have Medicare benefits, you can visit any physician that accepts assignment. If you have enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan, you may have to get a referral and visit a provider within your plan’s network. Specialists can work with your primary physician to rule out underlying health problems that could be causing changes in your overall ability and independence. Many of these problems can be treated and you may experience an improvement in your condition with the right therapy or medication.
Once your physicians have addressed any underlying medical problems that could be causing a deterioration in your abilities, they can work with you to find solutions that will help you age in place. Medical professionals who work with seniors regularly understand the stress of aging as it applies to your independence, and can offer you suggestions as you consider your options in home care.
Aging in place with assistive technology. Assistive technology can include a wide array of tools that can keep you safe and healthy living at home. Depending on your personal needs and circumstances, you may want to consider if these gadgets made specifically for seniors aging in place may be beneficial to you:
Health-monitoring technology has been introduced to help seniors continue to age in place, while medical providers can review and evaluate their vital signs and watch for any indication of a health crisis. Lightweight, wearable monitors can provide real-time data to your doctor. Devices are available to measure glucose, blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital measurements. As physicians get more comfortable with the accuracy and reliability of devices like these, more seniors will be able to maintain their independence without sacrificing their wellness.
Emergency Alert & Response System
A wide range of emergency alert monitors are available to seniors who wish to remain living in their own homes safely. With increased accuracy, unlimited range, and improved response times, a senior can push a button to indicate a fall or injury to request immediate help. Some response systems provide an operator who will remain in contact until an emergency response team arrives on scene. With many options available on the market, compare services and find the one you will feel most comfortable with.
You may already be very familiar with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors on the market, but you may not be aware of the sensors available that can keep you safe in other ways. For instance, there are sensors that will monitor the temperature of water from your faucets or showers and cut off the flow of water when it gets too hot. Cooking sensors work with electric stovetops to shut off burners that have reached certain temperatures or have remained on for a certain period of time. Safety sensors can help protect you and give your loved ones some assurance.
Alarms & Reminders
Depending on the needs of the individual, alarms and reminder systems can allow seniors who may experience mild forgetfulness to continue living alone safely, reminding them to take medications, eat, or move around for circulation. Even though loved ones may suggest calling at regular intervals, their lives are busy and distractions get in the way of planned phone calls. These alarms and reminders can be an extra layer of assistance.
Doorbell cameras have become more popular recently, and can be helpful for individuals and families of all ages. Connected to motion-sensing outdoor security lights, an app on a smartphone, or a remote monitoring system, these doorbell cameras can be helpful in a number of ways. The presence of cameras serves as a deterrent to those with criminal intent, but can also alert a senior living alone to a package being delivered, a loved one arriving, or the need to call for help immediately if they are concerned that someone is trying to break in.
Don’t underestimate the more common forms of technology we have been using for years, including smartphones, hand held tablets, and social media. Smart phones can keep you in touch with family members at any time through calls, texts, or emails, and can be attached to your belt, walker, or even worn around your neck. Interacting with friends and family on social media can help prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Get comfortable with online services and take advantage of all the innovative tools that can keep you aging in place - living securely and safely at home.