Leveraging technology for senior independence
As Americans live longer and longer, one of the biggest issues they face – in addition to continued good health – is maintaining their independence. Remaining in familiar and comfortable surroundings can have a positive effect on outlook and mental health, and it can also be a more cost-effective alternative than assisted living if overall health allows.
While mobility and memory can make it difficult to live alone, technology can be a big help in allowing seniors to stay in their own homes while feeling safe and confident. Technology can also be a key factor in making family members more comfortable knowing seniors are able to take care of themselves or easily access the services they need:
Most seniors are already well aware – and very comfortable – with the technology that can help them maintain the mobility that plays a critical first step in remaining independent. This might include power scooters or electric wheelchairs, automobile modifications such as lifts and ramps, and even easy chairs that raise and lower to enable sitting and standing. Other possibilities include elevators and chair lifts to maintain access to second floor bedrooms and facilities.
One challenge seniors face is potential memory loss. This may impact their ability to cook, manage light housework, and even maintain medication protocols. Smart phones and digital watches can easily accommodate simple reminders, and there are also specialized tools that allow you to record personalized messages and reminders that will be broadcast at scheduled times. There are also automatic medication dispensers that first flash to remind users to take their medication, then beep if the medicine is still not taken. Some of these technologically advanced medication dispensers will even notify a caregiver or family member if other notifications are ignored.
Given the very real possibility that some seniors may require physical or even medical assistance while remaining independent, it’s important to have the technology in place to ensure they can make those contacts. For example, tools such as Google Home can dial 911 on voice command (though language is important to Google, so the request must be phrased, “Hey Google, call 911.”). Most smart phones can connect to 911 even from a locked screen, and the latest smart watches will send the wearer’s location to emergencies services if it detects a fall.
Monitoring health and wellness
Health monitoring technology is already routinely used to monitor and provide feedback for things like blood sugar levels for diabetics or pulse rate for those with an embedded pacemaker. There are also a number of wearable devices, including smart watches, that allow wearers to monitor things like pulse, blood pressure and even blood oxygen levels. Many of them can be programmed to send alerts if health data is unusually high or low, or even send alerts to family or medical professionals if needed.
With a little training and a willingness to embrace the available technology, many seniors live independently longer than expected. By taking advantage of the digital tools and devices, seniors and their family members can be confident that they are safe, healthy, and well cared for as they remain in their own homes.
If your loved one requires more assistance than these technological advancements can provide, it may be time to evaluate and select a facility that can help. Facilities managed by American Health Corporation – including three locations in Alabama – offer the highest quality healthcare nearby and offer programs to help patients and families make complex and difficult decisions about living arrangements, now and in the future.
Contact the American Health Corporation nursing home in your area today for more information or to schedule a guided tour:
Oak Trace (Bessemer, AL) 205-428-9383
Colonial Haven (Greensboro, AL) 334-624-3054
Perry County Nursing Home (Marion, AL) 334-683-9696