Nearly 90 percent of seniors say they want to age in place in their own home for as long as possible, and a large majority believe their current home is where they will always live. However, at some point, nearly every senior will need assistance with performing daily tasks. Currently, there are around 40 million people in the U.S. acting as a caregiver in some form to an elderly relative. The added responsibility of caring for a senior loved one to an already busy and overbooked life will add stress, that untreated, will eventually lead to caregiver burnout. A recent report from AARP found that 71 percent of caregivers want to use caregiver technology to supplement some of their duties.
However, the same report found that despite their interest, only 7 percent of caregivers are actually using technology. According to the report, this is mostly due to a lack of awareness, cost, and a perception that these new technologies are probably difficult to use and won’t actually help them that much. However, nearly half of the current caregiver population is made up of generation X and millennials. Experts say that these younger generations are more likely to adopt caregiving technologies, and that the digital health industry – currently at $2 billion – is expected to rise to $30 billion by 2020.
“We’ve entered the era of low-cost, miniaturized, technological capabilities that enable smarter caregiving and greater independence,” said Laurie Orlov, an aging-in-place technology analyst.
Perhaps the most significant benefit caregiving technology offers is peace of mind, for both seniors and their loved ones. In-home monitoring systems are currently used by ten percent of caregivers, but more than 75 percent said they are interested in using them. The same majority of caregivers also said they are interested in medication management tools that provide refills, deliveries, and adherence for their senior loved ones’ prescriptions, making and supervising medical appointments, and assessing health needs and conditions.
In-Home Monitoring Systems
There are several systems that provide technology-based safety services for seniors, such as “fall buttons” and GPS tracking devices. In-home monitoring systems are also increasing in popularity with seniors and their loved ones. BeClose with Amada is one of these systems that allows loved ones to monitor seniors who are alone in their home at any time of day.
With BeClose, smart sensors are strategically placed in a senior’s home, in high-traffic areas where statistics have shown that falls and accidents are more likely to occur. The sensors work on a cellular connection, eliminating the need for wires, drilling holes in walls, or an internet connection.
The BeClose system receives data reports from these sensors to track trends and vulnerabilities for the senior. The sensors notice if something is out of the ordinary; for example, they will notice if the senior hasn’t taken medication, has left the house in the middle of the night, has been out of bed for a long period of time, or has fallen while trying to get up out of their favorite chair.
Third, the caregivers or family members can monitor the senior’s activity via an online portal and will receive alerts by text, email, or phone call if an issue of concern arises. This real-time distribution of information coupled with the alert system ensures peace of mind for the person being monitored and for their loved ones. It also allows action to be taken quickly if the need arises to do so.
For seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia who may not be able to accurately relay information about their routines or behavior, BeClose technology provides objective reporting so a clearer picture of their condition can be observed. BeClose with Amada acts as a supplement caregiver, and is a way for loved ones to be reassured that a senior is behaving in a normal pattern. Since many seniors only receive around four hours of care a day, BeClose provides information about what happens when caregivers aren’t present.
Written by Taylor French, Amada contributor.