Studies show more than 90% of us wish to age at home. Our personal and professional experiences show this may even be higher.
Fortunately, homecare technologies continue to make it more feasible to age at home even when you need some help. Homecare technologies can extend the services of caregivers and make it possible for you to age at home more cost-effectively. Here we recommend our top homecare technology tools if you want to safely age at home:
1. Fall Alert Systems
Falls are the #1 reason people can no longer age at home. People over 75 who fall are 5 times more likely to be admitted to a nursing home. And, with one in four seniors falling each year (close to half for those over 70), it makes sense to consider home care technologies to address this issue.
You’re probably familiar with the wristband or necklaces that a senior can use to call for help after falling. Who could forget the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up?” commercials? But, this home care tech has come a long way. One of the best fall alert systems is built right into the Apple Watch. The more we can integrate such home care technologies right into the devices we already use, the less we’ll see them as a sign of old age. The Apple Watch’s fall detection feature is not just a way to call for help, but senses if you take a fall. It is built right in as a feature, but you can opt to turn it off (but why?!?). You can also add medical ID info and emergency contacts to your Apple Watch.
There are many other fall detection/alert systems available, with more robust technology coming every day. We’ve even recently seen hearing aids with this capability built in. These devices, even with monitoring, don’t necessarily cost a lot. And, many hospitals and aging agencies offer free or discounted access.
Contact our care managers to get a complete home assessment to find out which system and other safety resources are best for you.
2. Medication Reminder/Management Systems
More than 125,000 people die each year from medication errors. And, not being able to manage medications derails many people who wish to age at home. About ¼ of all care facility residents require medication help.
Here are just a few examples of medication reminder and management systems. What will work best for you depends on your tech usage and knowledge and the nature of the medication problem and your regimen. Sometimes a simple pillbox or reminder app works, while others need a system that helps monitor for missed doses to alert a caregiver.
3. Smart Home Devices
Smart home devices make life more convenient at home, but also prevent potential problems. These range from camera systems like Nest and Amazon’s Smart Cloud Camera for security to smart lighting, showers and toothbrushes. Anyone who’s a “snowbird”, has a second home or lives alone should look into smart home solutions. You can help set these up for your aging parents and make sure they’re safe and nothing is unusual at home.
4. Monitoring Systems
For next level sophistication, consider monitoring systems designed specifically for ensuring safe aging. Actually, these could be useful for anyone with a chronic condition, health issue or who has had a health emergency.
Systems like Care Predict monitor patterns and notice changes, to prevent a crisis before it happens. The wearable wristband can be used to call for help, but more importantly, senses activities and notes changes in patterns. For example, if you are suddenly sleeping more, going into the bathroom many times at night or not going into the kitchen at all (ie not eating).
We see these becoming an essential part of eldercare, both at home and in care facilities. Aided by the human touch of caregivers, such systems can greatly extend quality of life by minimizing crisis and unnecessary decline. It’s important to get all the details on how the system works, ongoing fees involved, and maintenance to pick the right system and ensure it works. Also, don’t just spring such a system on your loved one. Talk it over, make sure they’re bought into the idea, and comfortable with it and how it works.
5. In-home Healthcare Devices (Telehealth)
Anyone with a chronic medical condition knows the hassle of constant appointments for monitoring, treatment, etc. Life can center around trips to doctors' offices. Fortunately, tech will make it easier for all of us to monitor and manage health conditions from home.
You likely know someone who takes their blood pressure or does a blood sugar test at home. But now such monitoring can be done for a whole range of conditions. They can also help track the results and even communicate them directly to medical providers. You’ll soon see solutions to monitor cognition, nutrition, hydration and all kinds of ADLs. This will allow us to age at home more safely, but also leave more time for actually living life.
6. Smart Assistants/Displays
We recommend the Amazon Echo Show for its integrated smart assistant, ease of communication (with a visual component) and the added benefit of entertainment. You can play music, listen to books or podcasts, watch videos and get daily news from your Echo Show. Better yet, you can do video calls with loved ones to stay connected. And, Alexa makes it easy to do tasks and get information with just the use of your voice. Google Home Hub offers an alternative, with similar functionality powered by Google Assistant.
These devices are really an add-on to #3 as they offer various smart home features. Most smart home devices and all kinds of apps are integrated into these devices, especially Alexa.
Odd sounding word, but it’s just a combination of financial and technology. Since we started providing care management in 1998, financial management problems and scams have been a common theme for people needing help. Unfortunately, scammers target elders more than any other group. They cheat elders out of about $3 billion every year! And, beyond scams, many elders become overwhelmed with managing finances and make costly errors.
Back when we started, the solutions were decidedly old school. We’ve seen such a revolution in ways technology can help with these concerns (of course, the scams have gotten more technological too).
One of our favorite fintech solutions for elders is the TrueLink Card. It’s a reloadable visa with personalized financial protection options. Today, the old school concept of a bill paying or financial management company is combined with tech to make things easier and provide transparency online and with cloud technology. Even just the move to online banking and automated bill paying creates a simplified financial life, reducing errors and making it easier to spot concerns.
8. Lifestyle Apps/Services to Age at Home Conveniently
Two other key areas to watch if you want to age at home: nutrition and transportation. The great news is we have so many tech-enabled solutions for this already. Uber and Lyft (EasyLiving offers LyftConcierge) make transportation easy. You can have everything delivered with Shipt, Amazon, and meal delivery services. Not only do all these new solutions make life more convenient, they create a healthier, more connected life for people who age at home.
Read more about some of the lifestyle apps and services we recommend (not just for seniors!).
Want to age at home? Or, have a loved one who dreads the idea of ever having to go to a nursing home?
Consult with our aging-in-place experts to find the right tools and resources for your situation.