We all want to remain independent as we age. But living alone can be difficult, if not dangerous, for seniors with declining cognitive abilities, including the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Even common tasks, such as preparing a sandwich, can be a challenge.
There’s good news, however. New technology can help many people with mild cognitive impairments, such as persistent memory loss, stay in their homes a bit longer. Jewish World Review goes into great depth talking about the latest technologies that are helping seniors stay happier and healthier longer.
“There’s a tremendous demand for technological tools to help caregiving, particularly as baby boomers deal with elderly parents who may be living across the country,” says Tracy Zitzelberger, administrative director of the Oregon Center for Aging and Technology. The Portland-based Oregon Health and Science University studies aging and other health issues.
Here is a new technology to help keep a loved one independent and safe:
If Mom lives alone, you want to know whether she’s waking up and going to sleep on time, eating properly, showering and taking medicine. New systems allow adult children to monitor the everyday habits of their ailing parents.
Monitoring services will install wireless sensors in areas of the home that a senior uses most often, including the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen. The sensors will track certain kinds of movement, such as when a refrigerator, medicine cabinet or front door opens. During setup, the service will study the senior’s normal pattern of daily activities.
Sensors installed by West Bend, Wis.-based GrandCare Systems (www.grandcare.com) issue a minute-by-minute report to a designated caregiver, who can view the information on a Web page. The sensors will note any changes in normal patterns. For instance, if there’s an unusual amount of movement in the middle of the night, or if the medicine cabinet doesn’t open at the regular times, GrandCare will send an automated message via phone, e-mail or text message to the caregiver.
The cost for a system is about $500 for installation and $100 in monthly fees for a one-bedroom apartment, says Laura Mitchell, vice-president of marketing. GrandCare doesn’t use cameras.
The service’s social component may be just as important to seniors who live alone. A touch-screen computer provides the senior easy access to popular online tools, such as Skype for two-way video chats, family photos on Facebook and family videos on YouTube. If the touch-screen user is a grandfather, for example, “he presses a button that says ‘Suzy’s dance recital’ and watches the video,” Mitchell says.
Michelle Spettel has been using GrandCare to monitor her mother, Esther, who lives alone a half hour away.
“She’s getting older and doesn’t remember things as well,” says Spettel, who lives in West Bend. Spettel goes to a Web page to track her mom’s daily activities.
“I know when she comes home, but it’s not intrusive. I don’t have to call her and say, ‘Mom, did you make it home safe?'” she says.
Information from: jewishworldreview.com
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