Home Health Care Technology

New Advances in Home Care Technology for Seniors

As the population ages, older adults want to remain in their homes right up to the end of their lives. In the past, an older adult with health issues would need nursing care. Performing daily living activities and household chores becomes a more significant challenge as we age.

Many seniors stop driving after the age of 75, making it even more difficult to run errands like grocery shopping. Fortunately, seniors have many choices, although that sometimes makes it hard to know where to begin.

New advances in technology for seniors make it easy, convenient and stress-free to enhance their golden years. In this article, we will answer the following questions provide some tips for success:

We will cover in this article

Home Care Technology

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What Types of Tasks Can You Complete with a Computer or Smartphone?

Computers and smartphones bring the world to your fingertips. Here is a list of some of the common services that seniors can find using internet searches:

  • Housecleaning
  • Lawncare
  • Handyman repairs
  • Online shopping
  • Grocery and meal delivery
  • Transportation services
  • In-home health care
  • Online banking services

Even though it is possible to live without having to physically go out into the world each day, staying involved in life is important for our mental health, regardless of age. Finding services online helps seniors to get out and attend social activities like church and other activities with friends.

Staying socially involved in life prevents depression and reclusiveness. [1]

Creating Senior Healthcare Technology that Works

Home healthcare technology is growing each year and now offers seniors numerous important features, yet there are still areas that technology may help. Many companies are now seeking to identify senior healthcare gaps so they can address specific issues. One of the biggest problems with seniors is compliance.[2]

Here’s a shortlist of senior health needs that our society can improve on:

  • Helping seniors take medications properly
  • Helping seniors get adequate exercise
  • Helping seniors communicate clearly with clinicians and their families

These are all important factors for seniors wishing to live a long, healthy life.
As you introduce the new advances in home care technology to the seniors in your family, be sure to remind them that these things are meant to be helpful, not intrusive. It’s important that your older family members be able to stay connected to doctors and family members.

Most large cities have services that will bring food from any local restaurant right to your door, which is a technology that helps seniors of today. That means it’s not necessary for your aging loved one to go in the kitchen and cook a meal.

Though some do enjoy cooking, most will say it’s too much of a bother; they would prefer food delivered from a favorite restaurant. Technology may someday help seniors with tasks such as preparing meals and cleaning the kitchen.

What is Fueling the Rise in Adopting Technology for Seniors?

In the past, seniors were slow to adopt new technology. They felt that it was too hard or would require special skills or college courses. Sometimes, learning new things can be stressful for older adults.

However, so many seniors now want to age in place and they’re willing to learn how technology can help. They are beginning to see that the dream of growing old at home is completely possible if they learn how to use computers and smartphones.

These facts have contributed a great deal to the recent rise in rates of adopting technology among older adults. Now that seniors know how useful computers and smartphones are, they have warmed up to the idea of technology for seniors and seem more willing than ever to learn.

Technology may allow them to live on their terms, perhaps right up to the end of their life. Here’s the latest statistics on seniors and technology:

  • Senior technology is a $30 billion industry
  • Four of ten seniors own a smartphone
  • Twice as many seniors own smartphones today as in 2013 [3]
  • The rates of seniors who adopt technology lag behind those of the overall population

Although technology adoption rates among seniors still lags behind those of the overall population, experts believe this will gradually change over the next ten years.
As all seniors begin to realize how important technology is, many local community colleges and churches are offering computer classes specifically for older Americans. Here are some of the advantages of computer classes for older adults:

  • Courses are geared toward older adult learners
  • Courses teach basic computer skills
  • Lessons are easy to understand
  • Courses avoid or explain complex technical terms
  • Churches sometimes off classes free for members

Though these may seem like simple tasks to younger people, they can be very daunting to seniors. These classes also provide a way for seniors to get out and meet other people their age.
Seniors have always generally struggled with technology, but with the ease and convenience of these classes, mastering all the basic skills is straightforward and stress-fee. The senior community is responding in a positive way, causing entrepreneurs to offer even more products and services designed specifically for older adults.

As the average age of Americans increases, trends in technology will surely increase for decades to come.

Seniors and Technology: Providing a Social Network

It surprises some people how quickly seniors can master social media. A large majority of seniors now have a Facebook and Twitter account. Many of them also enjoy Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. These are social media platforms where people can meet online and share the things they enjoy.

Social media platforms give seniors many new outlets for activities to be social like:

  • Staying in touch with family and friends in distant locations
  • Meeting people all over the world
  • Voicing their opinions on important issues
  • Exchanging ideas with people from other cultures
  • Sharing photos of hobbies online

It’s more fun when seniors can share their creations and hobbies with others. Plus, it’s a great way to stay connected to likeminded people.
The prolific nature of social media now makes it easy for seniors to stay in contact with their families, no matter where they live. Family members can easily check in daily and just say hello or ask how grandma is doing. Technology makes communication fast, easy and non-intrusive for both parties.

As older adults have learned how these social media programs work and how many new doors it opens for them, it’s exhilarating. It’s like having a new world open up—a world where they can explore places, ideas, and new inventions without ever leaving home.

Home Health Care for Seniors and the interaction with Technology

With a computer and broadband connection, your grandparents can take care of many of their personal and health care needs like:

  • Getting the local weather
  • Finding a good restaurant
  • Buying birthday gifts
  • Refilling prescriptions
  • Check in with their doctors
  • Monitor heart-rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar

It is now even possible to take physical therapy in the comfort of their homes. [4]

The doctor or hospital will bring all the equipment out to their homes and show them how it works. Once they’ve completed all their scheduled physical therapy, the clinic comes out and picks up the equipment, so there’s not even an inconvenience.

Many seniors say that they feel more confident in their skills when they can master these types of advanced medical technology at home. The average person, including older adults, agrees that they would at least try at-home medical technologies because it saves time and money.

Also, for those who have injured a hip, leg or arm, it would be painful to get out each week to travel and see a physical therapist. But with in-home physical therapy, they can perform the stretching and routines in the comfort of their homes, at their convenience.

In the future, many experts predict that the general population will move more toward using at-home healthcare technology. Imagine waking up with a sore throat, but instead of having to dress and drive to the doctor’s office, you simply connect with the doctor online.

Innovative advancements in monitoring the human body make it easy for doctors to check vital signs remotely such as:

  • Temperature
  • Pulse rate
  • Blood pressure

Older adults may, in fact, lead the way for the rest of America in regard to at-home healthcare treatment options.

Online shopping has transformed households of people of all ages and generations. Many people now buy everything online and have it shipped right to their door. Amazon has been the frontrunner in this area, but other retailers are finally catching up.

In the future, we may not need shopping malls, grocery stores, and doctor’s offices. We may be able to do everything important online, including taking care of our health.

Aging in Place Technology for Seniors

With aging in place technology, families can keep track of their elderly loved ones better. They can discreetly monitor where loved ones are and even get email notifications if something seems out of the ordinary. There are smartwatches that provide all types of information and can relay that to a doctor or family member.

There are devices to remind older adults when it’s time to take their pills or make appointments to see the doctor.

Best Buy has recently introduced an innovative smart home service called “Assured Living.”[5] This service makes it easy to check on your aging loved one. The service is installed by Best Buy’s Geek Squad and is fully customizable. It allows users to choose which services they want, ranging from monitoring the senior’s vital signs to monitoring sleep patterns.

Technology gives seniors the ability to set up many of their home services such as:

  • Turning lights off and on
  • Changing the home’s temperature
  • Locking all doors
  • Raising and lowering window shades

This gives family members genuine peace of mind knowing that they can monitor and control some of the daily activities of their aging loved ones, even if they live in another city.

With devices like Alexa, Siri, and Amazon Echo, seniors don’t even need to know how to type these days. Voice or sound-activated devices are very helpful to those with arthritis in their hands. These voice-activated devices are being used by millions of Americans now, and they have become even more efficient with each passing year.[6]

New companies open their doors each year that offer electronic products that enable seniors to stay in their homes right up to the end of their lives. One day, nursing homes may well be obsolete.

How Baby Boomers Have Changed the World of Technology for Seniors

Many experts believe that baby boomers are largely responsible for the fast adoption of smartphones and computers. Baby boomers are the group of people who were born roughly between 1942 and 1964. This generation has traditionally set itself apart from previous generations with their out-of-the-box thinking and lifestyles.

Many who grew up in that period believed in love and peace. They spoke passionately about taking better care of the environment. The baby boomers have never fit into the molds that society set for each generation. They were always free thinkers and peace lovers.

These facts may be strongly connected with why this generation has been more willing and accepting of technological advancements.

Baby Boomers had a tremendous economic impact in America and across the world. They have been the instigators of social change. They have had an impact on everything from music and food to space exploration. Today, they are changing the world related to technology for seniors needing in-home care.

The Future of Seniors and Technology

According to the American Medical Student Association, the Baby Boomer population will increase by 73 percent over the next decade.[7] One in five Americans will be classified as a “senior.” This makes the drive to create new in-home care advancements even more crucial.

This type of technology is perfect for someone who is disabled and finds it difficult or even painful to get dressed and go out. There’s a definite saving in time and money. But there are many other considerations.

One man in New York, whose 89-year-old father lived in Memphis, was worried that his father wasn’t eating enough. He invested in a software program called the GrandCareSystem[8] which helps him stay in regular contact with his father. The program helps the son to:

  • Track his father’s daily activities
  • Monitor his father’s weight
  • Communicate via video and chat
  • Listen to the same music or news programs
  • Share family photos via video sharing

The application is almost like being there.

Reminder Rosie[9] is a voice-activated clock that reminds seniors to take their medications. It is very easy to use and requires almost no tech skills. Users can set it to remind their loved ones to take a walk.

They can also pre-record messages, such as, “Mom, we love you and miss you!” This technology for seniors brings a new level of comfort to older adults.
MedMinder[10] is one of the many apps and software programs that reminds your elder loved one to take their medication at certain times each day. Some people have to take 20 or more pills per day. Even for a younger person, it can be hard to remember so many pills and the schedule for taking them.

Smartphone apps are very cheap and easy to download today. Many of them are free. Some of these apps require a bit more time to set up and program than others. But, with a little research, you can find the one that will work best in your situation.

Family can members help to search for apps that will measure blood sugar, blood pressure or track food intake and exercise. There are so many of these apps now available that there will be little trouble finding something that is agreeable to seniors and their caregivers.

How can I use technology to explore assisted living facilities?

Assisted Living facilities are a bit different than regular senior housing or retirement communities because they offer many nursing services. They’re often good choices for individuals who live with Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, or some other medical condition that requires regular monitoring.

Many of these facilities provide home health care in addition to meals, transportation, and home maintenance. For those seniors who simply aren’t able to prepare meals or clean the house anymore, this is an excellent choice. Loved ones’ will have all the help they need to stay independent for as long as possible.

Many websites now offer comparisons of all the local assisted care facilities. They give you a full work-up of information including:

  • Types of services offered
  • Costs
  • Layout of apartments and other dwellings
  • Three-dimensional layout of the facility and grounds
  • Location of activities like swimming and golf

Seniors can hand pick the facility that most closely offers all the services that they want and need.
In some cases, it’s a good idea to allow the aging family member to help choose the facility. In other cases, the family member might prefer if someone else did all the leg work and made the final decisions. Be sure to discuss this with your elderly loved one. Let them know that you’re working in their best interests.

They can be as involved as they want to be. Everyone’s goal for seniors is their safety, comfort, and happiness.

Tips for success

As with any new technology, seniors need the right perspective to accept it and begin integrating it into their lives. Instead of telling your grandparents that they need to learn to use a computer to stay in touch, present your argument in a positive light by describing the advantages.

Highlight these advantages:

  • Devices will allow them to remain home longer
  • They provide peace of mind for seniors and their families
  • Technology helps them enjoy better health
  • Technology gives them more independence and freedom
  • Technology keeps seniors in touch with health services

Seniors and technology do mix! The new smartwatches, smartphone apps, and in-home gadgets can make life so much easier for an older adult. When speaking about these matters to your loved ones, let them know that you would worry less about them.

Conclusion

Many of today’s senior communities have spacious apartments and loads of amenities.
Here’s a partial list of what to expect:

  • State-of-the-art gym
  • Media room with comfy recliners and widescreen viewing
  • Recreational activities for both indoors and outdoors
  • Weekly bingo games
  • Hot, nutritious lunches
  • Clean and well-maintained housing and grounds
  • Security

Also, there are many opportunities to drink coffee with a neighbor or relax in the dining room and read the paper. With all the new medical technology for seniors, families can enjoy greater peace of mind.

Whether caregivers feel the need to monitor their parents for falling events, or just check to make sure they’ve eaten today, there’s software and hardware technology specifically made for that.

With all these gadgets and devices, there’s no reason not to allow your older adults to age in place. It’s safe, and much less stressful for them. Almost 90 percent of all seniors say they feel more relaxed, comfortable and happy in their own home.[11] Also, it’s much less expensive for families.

Let’s compare some statistics:

    • Nursing home charges range from $100 per day in Texas to $275 a day in New Hampshire. That’s an average of $3,000 to $8,000 per month.[12]
    • In contrast, the average senior living facility offers lovely one-bedroom apartments ranging in price from $900 to $2,000 per month. With the more expensive complexes, you get additional amenities such as three meals each day.
    • In larger cities, there are usually numerous senior apartment complexes located across the city.
    • Families can often find one near them if they want to be closer to their parents or grandparents.

These places are fairly-priced and offer a long list of conveniences, but there is often a waiting list. In fact, in some of the more popular areas, seniors may have to wait two years to get an apartment, so it’s best to begin the search right away.

For many seniors, remaining independent is a big deal. They view this as an important personal choice and are fiercely opinionated about how and where they will live. In fact, older adults can often seem contrary, but sometimes this is simple fear. As people age, they become afraid of losing their independence.

They worry that family members will forget that they are real human beings with rights, desires, and needs.

Just like any other group in America, older adults don’t want to be treated differently. They don’t want to feel invisible. They have a strong desire to continue to make a difference even in their 70’s or 80’s. Many older adults volunteer at local hospitals and pet shelters.

Staying active improves health by:

  • Staying physically healthy
  • Staying mentally strong
  • Less chance of depression
  • Decreased social anxiety

As long as someone is healthy enough to continue their normal day-to-day activities, they should be allowed to do so. Most doctors agree that remaining a valuable part of the community is important for older adult, and, with today’s new advances in home care technology for seniors, there’s no reason why they can’t do this.

Sources

[1] https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/staying-socially-active-with-depression/
[2] https://homehealthcarenews.com/2017/10/amid-growth-efforts-griswold-looks-to-tech-to-solve-care-gaps/
[3] http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/
[4] https://myptsolutions.com/home-health-therapist/
[5] http://www.startribune.com/best-buy-introduces-service-aimed-at-caretakers-needs/433697203/
[6] https://www.ageinplacetech.com/
[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Medical_Student_Association
[8] https://www.aarp.org/home-family/personal-technology/info-2014/is-this-the-end-of-the-nursing-home.html
[9] http://www.reminder-rosie.com/
[10] https://www.medminder.com/
[11] https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/info-2014/livable-communities-facts-and-figures.html
[12] https://health.usnews.com/health-news/best-nursing-homes/articles/2013/02/26/how-to-pay-for-nursing-home-costs