Caregivers—either family members or other people—play a critical role in enabling seniors to remain active and healthy. In recent years, they have used technology to help the elderly remain in their own homes or, at least, maintain independence.
Technology drives much of what we do nowadays, and elder care is no exception. Using technology to assist seniors has been occurring for a long time now. However, the COVID pandemic that hit society in March 2020 has sped up this trend. So, how does technology help caregivers help seniors, and what are a few examples of these tools?
Benefits of Using Technology to Help the Elderly
- Transportation: Taking elderly parents or friends to the doctor, shopping, and community-based social opportunities has been a significant task for caregivers. However, web-based tools, such as telemedicine, online shopping, and virtual meeting software, have reduced the need for transportation.
- Remote Monitoring: In recent years, the use of technology to monitor seniors remotely has expanded. This includes cameras and devices to measure heart rate, blood pressure, and other vitals and transmit that information to providers. Nothing replaces one-on-one contact, but these aids can really help when a family caregiver or friend cannot visit often.
- Recordkeeping: Digital devices can make documenting vitals, progress notes, medication information and reminders, and other tasks much easier. Gone are the days of large notebooks containing reams of pages with information. It is now possible to upload information into a device that allows you to track and access it with one click.
Good Examples of Technology Tools
- Comfort Aids: Automated toys and other items, such as robotics dogs, cats, and other pets, can provide comfort to seniors. This is especially true for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. These devices can move when touched and also purr or bark. Here is an example of a robotic cat and dog.
- Aids for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs): There are a wide variety of assistive tools that help elderly people sleep, eat, walk, and take medications. Two examples are motorized beds and transfer equipment. Small wheel chairs to move throughout a home and AI-based reminder devices are two other examples.
- Virtual Technologies: Lack of social contact is a primary reason for loneliness and depression in the elderly. Virtual headsets have become more common now that enable a senior to travel to global locations, play games, take a walk, and even go grocery shopping.
- Devices for Hearing Impaired: Loss of hearing is a common issue for the elderly. Telephones are now available that show conversation captioned on a small screen.
Technology will never totally replace the benefits of one-on-one contact for seniors. However, using technology to help the elderly is expanding as an important care alternative. The availability of new and innovative products will grow as the baby boomer generation grows older.
Check out this interesting AARP report Caregiving Made Easier: How Technology Can Reduce the Need for Doctor Visits that addresses the use of technology to deliver telemedicine and other alternatives to seniors.
If you are interested in learning more about the pros and cons of using private or agency caregivers, click here. If you want to arm yourself with the information needed to motivate an elderly parent or friend to remain active and exercise, look at this new book, Keep Elderly People Active.