In the not-too-distant future, a frail senior who wants to age in place, at home, may well be able to do so with the help of smart home technology. A fully functional smart home is based on the concept of the Internet of Things, or IoT, and would not only monitor the home environment, appliances, and home security, but also the health and well-being of its occupant. From sensors that measure and monitor key physiological signs such as blood pressure and heart rate to sensors that can detect falls and provide data on walking, speed, sleep quality, and activity, technological advances may eventually make home a viable and less expensive choice than a long term care facility.
There are a number of challenges that must be overcome before smart homes become a reality. For example, there is a wide variety of stand-alone technologies on the market now that enable people to monitor their home environment and their health, such as devices that control temperature and lighting and provide home security, and systems that monitor vital signs, remind people to take their medications, and call for emergency help. However, these devices are proprietary and can’t connect with each other. Other problems to be solved in smart home systems are system reliability, data security, privacy, energy-efficiency, and affordability.
In the meantime, there are technologies available now can help seniors live more safely at home.
GPS-enabled devices such as GreatCall Responder offer wearable medical alert devices with fall detection and emergency response, as well as phones with features such as an urgent response button and health and safety apps. The company also provides support and resources for caregivers, including an app that allows family members to check in with the senior and receive emergency alerts. Monthly charges range from $19.99/month to $34.99/month plus equipment fees.
Other systems such as Grandcare communicate via the Internet with wireless sensors installed in the senior’s home. Caregivers can log into the company’s website to check the health status of the senior and are notified if unusual activity or a fall is detected. An easy-to-use touchscreen in the senior’s home requires no computer skills. The touchscreen options also include video chat, photos, letters, and calendar events, and additional features can be added by the caregivers, such as medication reminders. A list of additional technologies is available on the AARP website.
Here is a compilation video of future home technologies that are being developed – Future Homes.
Devices range from simple to sophisticated, with prices to match. And while technology can help seniors live independently and provide peace of mind for families at a distance, it is meant to be a supplement to care, not a substitute for human contact.
We help families in the Austin, Texas, area to help make sure that the older adults in their family have all of their care needs met. If you would like our assistance, please reach out to us at 512-814-3228 or via e-mail at info@arrangeCARE.com.