Technology plays a larger role in our lives than ever before, allowing us to collect information more effectively and reliably than ever. This power can be harnessed to improve senior health. Family caregivers often underestimate exactly how much – and for how long – care will be needed by their older loved one. It’s impossible to anticipate the amount of stress that caregiving puts on the caregiver and the family as a whole. However, technology can help to ease these challenges.
You may have heard of wearable cameras being introduced in police departments across the country. This same technology can be used by caregivers, allowing families and physicians to capture how time is spent with a senior. Seniors can also use a wearable sensor, allowing the capture of various “biomeasures,” or stress levels. This data provides a deeper understanding of the role that stress plays in caregiver/elder relationship and is also a good way to gauge which activities may be causing the senior stress, and which experiences bring joy, reward, and togetherness.
When this sort of data is analyzed in a detailed way, on a daily basis, it can change the understanding of family caregiving. The assumptions anyone has regarding the pros and cons of caring for a loved one will be challenged or strengthened by the findings. Today’s reality is that the number of people aged 65+ will soon be the largest demographic in the country. With more seniors wishing to age in place children and family members need knowledge and assistance in caregiving.
While a senior receives in-home care due to their ailing health, the health of the caregiver themselves can decline. The caregiver now has less time to focus on meals, sleep, and personal needs. Absences from work caused by caregiving duties may jeopardize the caregiver’s livelihood. This then contributes to the financial cost of caregiving. According to AARP, family caregivers provided $470 billion worth of care in 2013 alone. These are costs which are uncompensated and can leave family members in a complicated position. The care of their loved one cannot be neglected, yet the cost is overwhelming.
The forward march of technology is happening right now, so why not embrace it and adapt it to serve our health needs? If regular data could be collected and analyzed to better calculate the needs of an older loved one, it would reduce stress for all involved and potentially reduce the costs of care. Furthermore, the knowledge of the personal cost, based on information collected, may convince family members to hire a professional caregiver. No one can deny that the issue of healthcare for a senior is a serious matter. It’s time to adopt technological advances to help us provide the best care possible.