We believe the mass isolation of older adults during the Coronavirus lockdown, could result in the widespread use of new technologies that could help seniors age in place. This hypothesis comes from the observation of a rapid increase in demand for technologies like telemedicine, videoconferencing, medical alert systems and medication dispensers during the Coronavirus pandemic.
There are two trends, which may increase the demand for in-home caregiving technologies beyond the Coronavirus pandemic period. The first, according to an AARP study, is that 76% of older Americans would like to age in place. The second, and this is conjecture, is that with the significant number of infections that have taken place in senior homes during the Coronavirus pandemic, there will be a growing number of seniors who will want to avoid community dwellings.
We believe many of the technologies being used to care for seniors in isolation, may have the potential to be used as a model for in-home senior care long after the Coronavirus pandemic ends.
Here are some of the technologies we believe are proving themselves useful:
Staying in contact with seniors living alone is critical to assessing their needs, but also to providing them with opportunities for socialization. There have been several advancements in only the last few years which have made it easier and more affordable than ever for seniors to stay in touch and participate in the lives of others, from their own homes.
Digital voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are making it easier than ever for those with visual, cognitive, mobility or manual dexterity issues to call friends and family.
Live visual calls like FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Zoom are also revolutionizing communication. With Live visual calls, seniors can now be present at a grandchild’s birthday party, their soccer game or graduation. They can even read them bedtime stories each night. Visual calls also give caregivers the opportunity to observe changes in their loved one’s mood, appearance or mannerisms that could cue a need for further investigation.
New medical alert systems with automatic fall detection, mobile 2-way communication and GPS are making it easier than ever for caregivers to ensure their loved ones are looked after both in and outside of their homes, in the event of a fall, medical emergency or disorientation. Furthermore, medical alert system reviews are showing rapid price declines, along with increasingly smaller and lighter equipment making it more affordable and more likely that medical alerts will be worn by a larger segment of the senior population.
New security, like video doorbells, allow caregivers to see who is coming and going from the home and to have control over who can come into the home.
Digital security cameras, like nanny cams, can also allow loved ones to monitor the behavior of those helping their loved ones to ensure there is no verbal or physical abuse, or more commonly, neglect.
The median number of medications taken by adults over the age of 65 has doubled from 2 to 4 between 1998 and 2010. The challenge of keeping track of when and how much of each medication to take can be exceptionally difficult. Doing so with visual or cognitive impairment can make it even more of a challenge.
Seniors living on their own can find medication compliance and adherence very difficult. Fortunately, there’s an increasingly intensive set of technologies to help. From pill organizers to medication reminders, to medication dispensers and monitored medication dispensers, caregivers and seniors alike can get the comfort that they’ll take their medications properly.
Telemedicine is the combination of remote monitoring, diagnostic and care technologies that allow medical practitioners to care for their patients, to the extent possible, while their patients are home and they are in their office.
In a time where seniors are self-isolating, telemedicine has seen a massive surge in popularity. Hopefully, its widespread adoption will continue after the pandemic. It can certainly help those who live in remote regions or who have mobility or transportation issues.