Caring for an elderly loved one is often a challenging, exhausting job but also one that can be extremely rewarding and done with love. However, with the advent of recently developed technologies has come some relief from much of the difficulty that comes with at-home caregiving.
The stress that often accompanies caregivers’ daily lives can easily be relieved (even if just a little) with the right systems and gadgets in place, without compromising the health or comfort of your elderly loved one. As National Family Caregivers Month is underway, let’s take a look at some of these tools for at-home family caregivers and their caretakers.
1. Virtual Medicine and Health Tracking
One of the challenges that family caregivers often face is making sure their loved ones get the help they need from doctors and other healthcare professionals. Now that telemedicine has become a reality for many, there's less need to get dressed and drive to a doctor's office, which can be time-consuming and less than pleasant.
The availability of two-way video calling equipment means there's less need to physically travel to a clinic or other traditional health care facility. Instead, the patient can communicate with the appropriate medical personnel right from home. Meanwhile, health tracking apps also enable family caregivers and their loved ones to log important health information, like symptom histories and blood glucose levels, and then regularly transmit it to medical practitioners.
2. Home Automation
Because many elderly people have trouble moving around and taking trips outside of the house, any innovations that leverage the potential of the home itself can be quite useful in delivering care. Today's smart home systems and its innumerable smart features are perfect examples of this principle.
Many of these gadgets are able to learn different schedules or be programmed to a certain schedule so your elderly loved one won’t have to get up and manually change them. For example, some smart thermostats are able to learn and adjust according to you and your loved one's needs while smart lights can turn on at certain times of day or night or turn on and off automatically when you enter or leave a room.
Automated door locks, security alarms, surveillance cameras and other security apparatus enable seniors to remain safe and sound with virtually no effort required on their part. Security cameras, in particular, not only permits individuals to keep an eye on the property but also allows caregivers to observe their loved ones from elsewhere when they have to step away for a while.
3. Emergency Response Systems
People with limited mobility sometimes have trouble summoning assistance in the event of a fall or other injury. Fortunately, medical alert devices can lend a helping hand in this department. They come in the form of lightweight pendants or wristbands that the user wears while going about his or her normal daily routine. In the event of any mishap, the simple press of a button suffices to contact emergency services. The most sophisticated of these units even possess the ability to automatically activate themselves when a fall is detected without the user having to take any action.
4. Motion Sensing Tech
Wearable sensors provide a wealth of capabilities for remote monitoring without being intrusive. Motion detectors can alert caregivers when their loved one has stopped moving for a long period of time. Other types of sensing devices can keep track of unusual activity, send alerts if the temperature deviates from previously established ranges and tie into the lighting system to dim and brighten various rooms based upon the resident’s movement around the house. In many cases, friends and family can review sensor logs directly online.
5. Medication Reminders
Most people who are aging in place must make use of an extensive pharmacopoeia of prescription medicines to keep themselves in the best possible physical and mental condition. Unfortunately, the variety and sheer number of pills involved can tax anyone’s patience, and the fact that seniors often suffer from memory problems doesn't help matters.
Prescription reminders notify patients and their caregivers when it's time to take each type of medication, and missed doses are carefully recorded. The best results come from using dedicated setups that are expressly designed for this purpose, but there are a plethora of smartphone apps that contain much of the same functionality at a fraction of the cost.
6. GPS Devices
One of the most worrisome prospects for any family caregiver is not knowing where a loved one is at any given time. GPS tracking devices can help make this fear a thing of the past. Your loved one may have a mobile phone that includes the requisite hardware by default, and there are downloadable programs that make it a breeze to stay apprised of their whereabouts. And while many elderly adults lack knowledge or familiarity with smartphones, there are solutions that bypass this issue. Wearable GPS trackers, like those that can be inserted into shoes or worn on the wrist, let you keep tabs on your loved one without unduly inconveniencing them.
Although caregivers have an oftentimes taxing job, there are many tech tools available to help them better care for their aging loved ones. Take some time to research what kinds of technologies are best for you and your loved ones in order for you to give the best care possible without wearing yourself out.