“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” hearkens back to the late 80’s when technology was being introduced to support seniors who lived at home and wanted to feel safe in case of a medical emergency.
Today, seniors continue to want the independence of living at home, while safety remains a top concern. In staying at home, they are also concerned about access to quality health and home care, and, reducing the isolation that comes with being on their own.
Family members who support an aging parent face their own challenges. They often times have their own families to look after, so it becomes a struggle to meet the needs of both their parent and their own family at the same time. In addition, family members may live at a distance from their parent and cannot stop in for regular visits or to help out.
The good news is that there are a number of innovative digital tools that can help keep seniors safe, well cared for, and engaged. And, they can help family care givers when they cannot be present. These tools include devices for health and safety monitoring, more personalized communication, and social networking sites developed specifically for seniors. And, there are also helpful robots on their way!
To help with home based care, Honor is a popular online service that connects non-medical in-home caregivers with seniors. The Honor “Care Pro” can check in on the senior, keep him or her active, provide transportation, or just provide companionship.
When a home care provider cannot be present, GreatCall has a range of solutions designed for the senior in mind. These include mobile phones, medical alert devices, and a fitness tracker – each providing medical emergency alert and response capabilities.
Paired with an Amazon Echo, Marvee is a new voice driven care companion that can accept and then send alerts, messages, and updates to the senior, his caregivers, and family members. A family member can tell the Echo: “Alexa, tell Marvee that we will be at Dad’s house Saturday at 1:00″. Marvee will then communicate this message via the Echo to the parent.
And, in the not-so-distant future, there will be robots who can aid in home health care. Pepper and MERA are humanoid robots who are being adapted to be able to communicate, detect vital signs, and send out emergency alerts from the home. While the cost of Pepper today may be prohibitive ($1,700 plus monthly maintenance and insurance fees), it may ultimately save money by replacing or enhancing some of the more expensive home care services.
Engaging in an online social community can be beneficial for the stay-at-home senior, to connect him with individuals who have similar interests or who may be going through a similar life experience. Stitch is an online community for anyone over 50, and provides for the opportunity to socialize, travel, make friends, or find a companion. If he wants to supplement his income, feel less lonely, or just feel safer – Silvernest is a home sharing site that helps seniors find a compatible housemate.