Technology is such an integral part of our lives that it seems odd to call it out as an item for discussion. Yet, it deserves specific attention because of its ability to increase communication, safety and knowledge in care giving. Making a conscious effort to incorporate technology into the care giving equation can make the process more effective and successful for everyone involved.
Medication adherence, specifically the lack thereof, is such a threat to the health and well-being of seniors that the World Health Organization has launched an initiative specifically to address it. Seniors take an increasing number of medications, and adhering to proper doses and schedules can become difficult as health and cognition decline. Smart phone apps ramp up adherence efforts with audible reminders and refill alerts, helping to reduce missed medications and prevent medication errors.
Caregivers must track an enormous amount of information regarding the senior’s health, ranging from appointment schedules to medication details. Now smart phone apps and cloud based health systems can help caregivers and seniors organize these essential details. Smart phone apps and online solutions also makes it easier for family members to stay updated on the senior’s care plan, progress, and physician contacts.
Seniors want to remain in their own homes as long as possible. LIVHome programs support that through caregiver programs. When caregivers aren’t present, personal emergency response systems provide instant communication with first responders. The sooner that a fall can be addressed, the better the outcomes. Caregivers can support seniors and educate them about the importance of calling for help immediately. It’s important to reinforce the fact that calling for help immediately will contribute to their ability to live at home, not threaten it. Safety for seniors who are suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease is critically important. For those who are in the early stages of the disease and still living at home, GPS tracking devices can monitor the senior’s location and send alerts if they wander outside of a set territory. The senior themselves can use the device to alert loved ones if they become disoriented or lost. Smart home devices are a life saving development. Setting up newly developed sensory devices in the senior’s home can detect falls, and some can even track vital signs.
There is nothing like chatting with a grandchild to bring a smile to a senior’s face. Caregivers can make sure that the senior is set up with Skype, and shared video games to help them remain mentally active. Various websites like Luminosity and the AARP post a wide range of mental acuity games for seniors. Tablets, iPads and smart phones make it easy for seniors to widen their world, even if they have mobility issues.
Technology and seniors may seem to be contradictory concepts, but when technology is used to enhance seniors’ lives, it is at its best and most meaningful use.