Jane Byrne of ireland's FirstCare looks at seven ways senior care can be improved by implementing common types of technology
There are about 43 million elderly people in the United States. This is about 13% of the entire population and growing. There is a need to improve on social and health systems to improve senior care, despite dwindling resources.
A huge challenge is in relation to dementia. With 47 million people living with dementia world wide and the numbers expected to triple over the next few decades let’s look at 7 ways technology has improved senior care.
With the introduction of smartphones, app developers have come up with useful applications that aid in monitoring the well-being of seniors. Currently, there is an app for everything ranging from:
The apps have been helpful to family members and other caregivers. The data collected by such apps can be used by doctors and other caregivers to keep track mobility, health, and their current locations.
Vulnerable elderly can accomplish various tasks on their own with the help of robotic pets and virtual assistant apps. The devices come with automated voices and help to remind the seniors when to take medication and do other essential tasks.
An example of a virtual assistant app is Amazon’s Alexa, which can help seniors do a variety of things including setting alarms and connecting with family members. Paro the robotic seal is an example of a robotic pet. It uses AI to respond to the owner’s behavior, and can provide an elderly person with companionship and bring many of the benefits of animal therapy.
DID YOU KNOW: you can use Alexa to connect with great sources of medical information like the Mayo Clinic?
The use of apps such as Google Hangouts, Facetime and Skype have replaced regular phone calls. These apps can be used on devices like tablets and smartphones to provide video calling. This allows caregivers and family members to check on their loved ones without being there physically.
Video calling has made it easier for caregivers to diagnose and speed up treatment procedures, providing patients with more peace of mind and timely care. The apps are essential for those with mobility issues. A remote caregiver, psychologist or doctor can provide instructions to family members on how to administer particular medication. This could cut costs and better utilize their time.
According to the Washington Post, one in every 10 seniors experience some kind of abuse. If caregivers can monitor patients continually, such abuses may be reduced. This is a key consideration in senior care.
Not only has the internet been beneficial for the digital generation but for the elderly as well. The Internet allows most seniors to stay connected with the outside world while enjoying access to vital information. They can gain information about various aspects of life.
Additionally, the Internet of Things (IoT) has revolutionized senior care by automating processes. For instance, those with mobility problems often have challenges answering door knocks. The introduction of smart door-lock systems and other devices help them do more when they are alone.
Currently, patients can connect with doctors in remote places while in the comfort of their homes. Health experts and doctors who offer their services and consultation online have made it very convenient for the elderly who cannot travel to their offices.
If you are interested in speaking to a doctor online or over the phone, ask your doctor if this is a service that they provide. Tele-medicine is becoming more widespread and is more commonly covered (in some way) by most private and governmental insurance providers.
Brain training games that ask the player to solve problems with their reasoning skills don’t just help the elderly to pass time; video games have also been associated with helping to stave off symptoms of brain related disease such as Alzheimer’s. Most interactive video games can be played on computers, smartphones, desktops, and tablets. A study conducted in the University of Cambridge found that virtual reality can help identify memory problems early.
The elderly deserve the best care which often requires caregivers to stay close to them. But due to decreased time and resources, most caregivers find this challenging. However, technology has simplified how seniors can be taken care of. The use of smartphone apps, video calling, online medical assistant services, virtual assistants and smart-connected devices have revolutionized senior care.
Jane Byrne has been working in the care industry for over five years as a project coordinator. She regularly blogs about both the personal and practical challenges of caring and is always actively working on producing informative content. Jane is currently writing for Firstcare, a nursing home network in Ireland.