None of us can avoid the aging process but there are hopefully ways in which we can make the lives of our loved ones as comfortable as possible during their senior years.
One of the most traumatic changes in later life is the perceived loss of independence when your parents have to move from their home and into care, which is why it is worth trying to give your parents the opportunity to live in their own home for as long as possible.
Here is a look at how technology-driven care management such as telehealth and other initiatives, are helping to allow your parents keep their independence for longer and stay in their own homes for a better quality of life and more peace of mind for you.
It is hard to argue with the observation that technology has had a positive impact on the life of many seniors, allowing them to stay in touch and lead a safer life where help is sometimes just moments away when it is needed.
Aside from the wide range of technology-based products that can now monitor the health and status of a senior on a 24/7 basis while they enjoy the comfort of their own home, the advent of social media has also had a big impact.
Seniors are able to keep in touch with loved ones who may not be living close by anymore, through social media like Facebook and through video chat services like Skype. Staying in constant touch with their family when regular visits are simply not possible is a positive lifeline that reduces the prospect of loneliness and allows you to check on your parents whenever you want.
There are a growing number of seniors who are suffering from the various different stages of Alzheimer’s and this condition is one of the greatest threats to the independence of your parents when it starts to impact on their domestic life and health.
There are now devices available that make it possible for Alzheimer’s patients to stay in their own home whilst being monitored around the clock, even if they do not know that they are being tracked online.
A series of sensors strategically placed around the home can be used to keep your parents away from danger and alert you if they leave the house or if there is a problem.
Motion sensors can be used to check that their eating and sleeping habits are not a cause for concern by checking when they leave and enter a room and you can also get sensors that raise the alarm if there is flooding in the bathroom or laundry room caused by a moment of absent-mindedness.
You may not like the idea of almost spying on your parents in their own home, but getting a text alert when something is wrong allows you to set up care system that allows you to ensure they are safe and gives sufferers of Alzheimer’s and Dementia the chance to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own home for longer than was possible before this technology existed. It’s a great alternative to a nursing home.
Whichever monitoring system or tracking devices you decide to use, there is still the issue of privacy that needs to be dealt with.
It is important to try and have this discussion with your parents as early as possible in the process so that they are aware of your intentions and the reason for wanting to keep them safe by using technology, despite the perceived invasion of privacy.
You can use sensors for things like setting an alert to tell your parents when they next need to take their medication. If your parents can see all the positive attributes of using this technology and how it can help to keep them safe, this should hopefully make them feel more comfortable about the situation.
There may well come the time when cognitive or physical limitations make independent living an impossibility for your parents, but despite the fact that there always difficult decisions to be made, using technology to prolong their stay in their own home is one of the easier ones to make.
The question of what is best for your mom or dad is always the subject of much anxiety for their children, but with the amazing array of gadgets and devices that are now available, many consider that any privacy concerns are outweighed by the benefits of being able to monitor and confirm that their parents are safe in their own home and living their senior life as best as possible.
What will you do with your parents when they get too old to care for themselves? Tell us in the comments!
GUEST BLOGGER: Melanie M. Hynes, RN, BN, VP of Innovation and Development has more than ten years of healthcare experience spanning the continuum from critical care to home care. Melanie has both a clinical and management background with expertise ranging from telehealth, disease management, clinical education and program development to readmission reduction, acute care partnerships, revenue generation, operations and sales. She enjoys sharing her research and insights online.