Seniors and technology—two words not often linked together without a pang of frustration. But family caregivers know differently. In fact, research shows the important role that technology plays in senior care. Learn about the latest technology trends for family caregivers and some made-to-order tools (translation: ready-to-go, right out of the box) that seniors can use to stay in touch with loved ones.
In addition to searching for information on medical problems, treatments and drugs, many go online to read about the personal experiences others have had with certain health conditions—as a way to understand more about their loved one’s health or even a condition they’re dealing with themselves.
With 75% of seniors age 65 and over living with a chronic health condition, including heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes, family caregivers have learned how to navigate the online resources available.
But what other forms of technology are caregivers using? And how do seniors benefit from the latest technology?
Trends in Caregiving Technology
According to AARP, family caregivers have taken advantage of a number of technological trends beyond the Internet. Here are some of the latest and greatest that AARP recommends:
1. GPS technology
GPS trackers can attach to clothing or be worn on the wrist and tell the caregiver a senior’s exact location. Some can even be set to alert a family caregiver, via phone, text or email, when a loved one goes outside of a certain geographical area.
2. Personal emergency response systems (PERS)
Think Medic Alert—the person wearing the PERS can press a button to contact a call center in the case of an emergency. Most can be worn only inside the home, but some allow the wearer to go mobile.
3. Medication reminders
Tools like TabSafe and MedMinder can be used to set reminders for taking medications or even to alert a caregiver when a senior has forgotten to take a prescription. And many iPad and iPhone apps, such as MedCoach, offer medication reminders and monitoring systems.
4. Software applications and support communities for caregivers
5. Wireless home monitoring
Sensor-based home monitoring systems can alert a family caregiver of an emergency or when something unusual has happened. For example, if a senior has not left the bathroom for an extended period of time, it could mean he or she has fallen.
6. Telikin computer
Developed for (and long-awaited by) seniors and caregivers, the Telikin computer comes with the software fully installed, supports Skype and provides a picture viewing program that allows the user to share and view albums in just a few clicks.
7. Health tracking tools
Caring for a loved one means tracking appointments, health records, insurance and more. Tools like Health Vault and Mayo Health Manager provide a single location for caregivers to store and organize health information, and prepare for emergencies.
Do you have experience with family caregiving technology? What tools do you recommend? We’d love to hear your opinions and comments below.