Technology means independence.
Parents want their independence and adult children want peace of mind. Technology is a way to honor both wishes. It can make the difference between being able to stay home and having to move.
Making life easier with technology.
Sensors, voice activation, GPS, and Bluetooth via gadgets, smart phone apps, tablets, computers and cameras tell you how your parent is doing without being intrusive. If something seems out of the ordinary (i.e. your mom doesn’t get out of bed, skips her medication or wanders out of the house), you get an email or text. Technology is also used to coordinate care, share concerns and update others.
Technology to the rescue.
For Mom, what looks like a snazzy piece of jewelry can actually be a camouflaged medic-alert like gadget that summons help. Mobile devices and computers can monitor and transmit a family member’s vitals (called “telehealth”), reducing the need for doctor appointments and heading off a potential crisis. “Wearables”—pendants, wrist devices (think AppleWatch, Fitbit or GreatCall Lively Wearables) and clothing—deliver health and fitness information.
Expanding their world.
Through the Internet, Dad can read the news online, listen to opera, tune in to a TED Talk, search for health information, meet others on a forum, check in with family and friends, watch a cooking show, take an online class or order a book (or pretty much anything else) from Amazon and even find a date! Some tablets are designed with seniors in mind (smartphones can be user-friendly for any age).
People who are socially isolated are more vulnerable to depression and other health issues. Video chats connect grandchildren and grandparents wherever they live. So does instant text messaging. Families can stay in touch by sharing music, videos, photos and email.
Smart houses—where appliances, TVs, computers, doors, heating, air conditioning, and audio and video systems can “communicate” and be controlled remotely, even from the family caregiver’s home—make it easier to continue living independently. Sensors that can tell when Dad gets up to go to the bathroom at night and soft lights that turn on automatically so he doesn’t trip also make aging safer.
Different types of technology include: