For seniors, leaving their beloved home can take an emotional and financial toll. So, to bypass the hefty price of assisted living, they’re opting for affordable smart technology to help keep them independent and most importantly, safe.
Medical alerts come in the form of a pendant, bracelet or even smartwatch equipped to call for help with the press of a button. These devices are also equipped to send instant medication reminders and upcoming doctor’s appointments. Many medical alerts also have automatic fall detection – falls being a common risk for 1 of every 4 seniors over 65, according to The National Council on Aging.
Before buying a medical alert, think about overall health and daily activities, since that will dictate the type of alert system that will be most effective. If your senior is on the go, consider a medical alert system with GPS tracking and a cellular connection for easier access to help. Other medical alerts work using a landline phone connection to only work within a certain range of the base station. Medical alerts cost anywhere from $30/mo. up to $90/mo. including professional monitoring, activation, and monthly fees.
Smart Home Security Equipment
Home security providers are creating easy-to-use equipment for seniors to use and for caregivers to keep an eye on them – such as security cameras. Aging Specialist, Sara Maloney, for Centralina Agency on Aging shared they’re making her mother-in-law’s caregiving experience easier.
“My mother-in-law is the caregiver for her mother and she works from home. She installed an ADT security camera at her front door to see when the mail came because they were having trouble with packages being stolen. But since then, it’s given her more flexibility as a caregiver,” she said.
“When she’s working or running errands, she’s able to check on her mom from her smartphone. The adaptation of security cameras has made her job as a caregiver more flexible.”
Security providers, like ADT, are offering more equipment with two-way audio and real-time footage including video doorbells to see who’s at the door before answering. Other common smart home security equipment includes smart lights to automatically turn on before your loved one walks into a dark room and risks falling. Security system costs vary depending on equipment, installation, and any added fees such as professional monitoring, cloud video storage to store camera footage, or remote control via smartphone.
According to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists – over 90 percent of seniors have at least one chronic condition. And, nearly 70 percent of Americans take at least one medication while over 50 percent take two. Taking the right medicine at the right time is important to maintain good health. Automatic medication dispensers take the worry out of making mistakes with taking medicine. The caregiver adds the doses to the dispenser and when the senior hears an alert, they’ll press a button to disburse the pills. For some medication dispensers, like Medacube, if alerts are unnoticed caregivers will also receive an alert.
The most popular automated medicine dispenser services range from $16 up to $80/mo. for monitoring and recording medication records For a less expensive option, consider a free smartphone app such as Mango Health to track health, and send medication and refill reminders using a point-based system for rewards.
Oftentimes, caregivers juggle multiple responsibilities. To better assist with their aid consider an automated reminder like Reminder Rosie. This personalized alarm clock sends voice reminders of appointments, medications, and daily activities. Reminder Rosie allows caregivers to create voice alerts for designated times and with multiple reminders like an alarm clock.
Maloney offered a few tips for caregivers to keep in mind as they prepare a senior’s home for independence based on her experience. Remember, each home and senior requires different safety needs to be independent. Consult with an occupational therapist and your local aging agency for the best assistance with recommendations for your loved one.
Additional Home Safety Tips for Seniors
- Look for any fall hazards throughout the home like loose wires and slippery rugs. Check if the rugs need to be removed altogether or just secured to the floor, and secure any slippery rugs to minimize fall risks.
- If your loved one is experiencing difficulty walking or standing consider balance training courses and rails to help with stability.
- Make sure each area of the home has proper lighting. Searching for light switches and lamps in the dark can be hazardous and increase fall risks.
- Assess your bathroom layout as most falls and hazards for seniors take place near water. Visit a local hardware store for the right grab bar and other shower equipment to reduce dangers.
- Minimize clutter as much as possible. Piles of unorganized books, magazines, and papers can lead to frustration when searching for something in particular. Clutter can also increase fall risks. Limit decorations, and put snacks and everyday items within easy reach.