While 79 percent of North American seniors ages 55 to 75 who were surveyed by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care® network, have given at least some thought to things they will need to do to enable them to live in their own home while they age, nearly half of all seniors surveyed have taken no action to ensure they will be able to live in their own home.
The top technologies and a variety of products on the market can help older adults stay home, according to Dan Bawden, founder of the national Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program for the National Association of Home Builders, and Expert Meaghan Walls, President and CEO of Assistology, Removing Barriers Through Innovative AT Solutions. Consider the following products that cover a broad range of the home and various seniors’ interests and hobbies. For more specific information, do an internet search or speak with a local expert.
Pill dispensers: A variety of pill dispensers on the market could help take the confusion out of managing daily medications. Some come with beeping reminders and flashing lights. Do an online search for the many options now available. For one solution, go to www.SimpleMeds.com.
Video doorbell: This smart technology hooks into existing doorbells that enable a homeowner to see who comes to the door via the phone. Ring door bell is a common one you can find at BestBuy or online. I have one in my home and we love it.
Voice and remote controlled thermostat: Monitor thermostat functions including furnace and air conditioning by voice or by cell phone. Some systems also incorporate smoke, radon and carbon monoxide detectors. Nest, Learning thermostat and Honeywell are common brands you can easily find that offer these functions.
Virtual assistant: Amazon’s Echo (which is Alexa-enabled) or Google Home allows homeowners to control their home with their voice – locking doors, turning lights on and off, adjusting the thermostat or viewing camera feeds. You also can listen to music, get traffic and weather reports, or add items to a shopping cart.
Stove fire prevention devices: These devices automatically shut off a stove if it is left unattended for a specific time. This could benefit an individual in the early stages of dementia.
Adaptive tools for inside and out: The effects of aging can make it difficult to maintain favorite hobbies such as gardening or continue to do household tasks. Some adaptive garden tools are designed to use with one hand or accommodate balance challenges. “If a goal is to have increased ability to manage household activities, someone with vision loss and early signs of memory decline may benefit from large print labels on laundry machines, hand-held magnifiers for labels and mail, and a medication management system with audible reminder. These may increase independence for older adults and give family some peace of mind,” noted Walls.
Home monitoring systems: Monitoring systems could help family caregivers keep tabs on the health and safety of senior loved ones. To allow for independence, some systems do not require human intervention and have the ability to monitor even body temperature and sleep. Other systems can alert caregivers to abnormal behavior. Some systems provide fall detectors and emergency response.
Amplified phones: These phones feature extra-loud ringer and voice volume, straightforward functions, easy-to-use large buttons, backlit keypads, a visual ring indicator, hands-free speaker phone and caller i.d. There are many options on the market. An internet search can help you find just the right phone, or contact an expert in assistive technology. We just installed one for my nearly 81-year-old father-in-law, which brought him renewed success in being able to communicate via telephone.
Tools for fun: Adaptive cardholders and large print cards can provide a way for a senior with vision loss and dexterity challenges to participate in their living community poker night, or to increase family engagement to play cards with their spouse, friend or grandchild, according to Walls. Devices like Grandpad help connect seniors with loved ones to interact remotely, and share photos and memories.
GPS tracking systems: GPS tracking systems can help ensure the safety of older adults who may wander because of a dementia. With the ever advancing technology available, you only need to do a quick Google search to find what might best fit your needs.
A few examples are:
Medical Guardian provides numerous options for families and seniors such as GPS trackers, medical alert devices, in-home devices and personal emergency response systems. Their offerings also include fall detection and a 24/7 monitoring service that provides a comprehensive security offering. Their newest product, the Freedom Guardian resembles modern-day smart watches which is much more discrete than other similar offerings but still easy to operate. Medical Guardian’s devices are consistently ranked highly in numerous online review sources such as Consumers Advocate, Reviews.com, Medical Alert Comparisons and others.
The latest PocketFinder Trackers launched in Jan. 2017. The newer model utilizes all three location technologies, GPS, Cell ID, and Google Wi-Fi touch, for accurate outdoor and indoor locating. It also has an SOS button. The Yepzon GPS locator tracks the location of your loved one every 10 seconds. It can work with any mobile device and the battery life is suitable to last several weeks (to even months) depending on how often you need to use it.
SPOT Gen3 gives aging adults a critical, life-saving line of communication when they travel beyond the boundaries of cell service. The latest generation of award-winning SPOT devices, SPOT Gen3 lets family and friends know their loved one is okay, or if the worst should happen, sends emergency responders their GPS location – all with the push of a button.
The GPS SmartSole provides peace of mind for family members and those caring for the millions of people suffering from memory impairment and wandering which can be caused by Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, Traumatic Brain Injury, or other cognitive memory disability. The patented GPS enabled “Smart” insoles fit easily into most adult shoes and let you monitor the whereabouts of loved ones who may tend to wander or be at risk of becoming disoriented and lost. You can track their location through any smartphone, tablet, or web browser, set up text and e-mail alerts if they leave or enter defined areas on a map.
Most smartphones come with or you can download apps that work as trackers too. I have such apps on my children’s cell phones and I can see where they are any place in the world- providing me maps of exactly where they are. This is the simplest version and may be where to start with a tracker, provide your aging loved one has their phone on them whenever they leave the home.
My hope is that this information will assist families when deciding where it’s best for them to age: their current home or another option. It can be a tough decision, and these tools are made to help seniors or their adult children start the discussion and begin planning.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.