Aging.com reported on 10 secrets that our aging parents keeps from us and some ways to deal with and approach them. I couldn’t help but think of all sorts of technology solutions (remote monitoring like GrandCare, Internet technology, etc.) that could assist in dealing with these 10 “secrets” shared in the story.
Of course, technology is only one piece to the puzzle. We are not quite at the point where technology comes immediately to mind when we are thinking about how to care for a loved one. It’s scary to embark upon caring for an aging parent and using a tool that is relatively new. We did not grow up seeing technology used this way. Many of us in today’s parenting generation have cared for children using all kinds of technologies (baby monitor, video monitor, bed monitor to detect SIDS, etc), but we don’t think to apply this to an obviously similar need among our aging parents. I get it, though, because although the caregiving process and stress can be similar to taking care of a child, it’s a completely different beast.
Children grow more and more independent as you guide them to do more and more things on their own. With an aging loved one, the opposite will occur. It’s much easier to give more freedom, obviously, than taking it away. I can imagine that it would be difficult to have someone tell you that you cannot or should not do things anymore.
Given this, we can’t be too surprised when a loved one hides or covers up certain things. I even think about my own kids cleaning up a mess they make, BEFORE I see it to avoid punishment or having things be taken away.
So what to do? How do we know if/when someone hides something? And what if it’s something that could be unsafe, unhealthy or potentially life-threatening? What steps could we or should we take to “get to the bottom” of things? How can we more closely monitor? How do we confront? I don’t know that there is an easy answer. I remember my parents having to “take away the keys” from my Grandpa. That was a hard day and it took him a while to get used to the loss of independence. It was the right thing to do (He was not even noticing if I passed him on the road and was repeatedly honking and wildly waving). Even though it was the responsible choice, it did not make it any less difficult.
The aging.com article lists 10 common things that people tend to “hide” or not reveal to those helping care for them. As I read the list I started to think that there really are some high tech and low tech solutions that could help out. Perhaps a telehealth assessment, a SKYPE visit, or even a remote activity of daily living monitoring solution, like GrandCare Systems.
Below is a list of the 10 secrets and the ways that I believe technology could be a piece of the puzzle:
1. Falls – – Technology can detect the actual fall itself, but even if they are not wearing anything…many technologies like GrandCare could alert a family member if they were not “up and about” as usual.
2. Pain – – So obviously technology can’t tell you WHAT they are feeling emotionally or physically, but can give you hints on it. For example, you could have SKYPE visits with a loved one and “see” how they are doing. Systems like GrandCare also have touch-based assessments that the loved one can fill out every day. People tend to be more comfortable telling a machine how they are feeling, versus “complaining” to their family. It can be a helpful resource and indicate if pain levels are there, swelling, happiness, etc. Activity Systems like GrandCare could also portray if a person was moving less than usual, which might be a good indication of a potential problem or pain.
3. Dizziness – – can be caused by many things such as low blood pressure or medication noncompliance…these things can all be remotely monitored by a tele-wellness system like GrandCare. GrandCare has several wireless, bluetooth enabled blood pressure, weight scale, pulseox, glucometer devices that can indicate a potential wellness issue. The medication dispenser could send out an alert if the meds were not accessed.
4, 5, & 6. Money Shortages, Frivolous Purchasing, Financial Abuse – – I put these together because I think they can be managed together. Technology is of great assistance as caregivers can check bank accounts, checks and credit card statements online. Not to mention, one of GrandCare’s initial goals was to help mitigate tele-marketing scams (the co-founder’s mother had an investment banker in Sun City West, AZ scam her, which gave a huge wake up to the entire family). GrandCare has a caller-ID sensor that can alert family members or primary caregivers of unusual, repeated incoming calls, etc. to help stop SCAMS!
7. Elder Abuse – – there are several factors to take into account with elder abuse. It can be very difficult to diagnose this, but technology systems in place can help. Technology can play a big role when determining neglect (caregiver is NOT arriving when they should be, patient is not being “turned”, fridge is NOT being accessed during mealtime, etc). SKYPE is a great way to “see” into the home and look into a loved one’s eyes to really determine what might be happening…
8. Auto Accidents or Driving Infractions – – Although technology won’t play much of a role with determining whether or not a loved one has gotten a ticket or driving infraction, it can share information about how your loved one is behaving in general. Is he/she wandering (could be indicative of sundowners, dementia or even seizures), is he/she complying with medications, eating regularly, normal vitals? sleeping well? All of these factors can help to give a bigger picture idea of what’s happening behind closed doors and allow family members to make educated, healthier and smarter decisions for a loved one.
9. Alcohol or Drug Abuse – – Again, technology can really give a better overall indication that all is well or not well at home. Eating/sleeping patterns, vitals, daily behaviors can help to give an educated view on what might be happening in a loved one’s life. In severe cases, it could be possible to use a monitoring system to monitor access to the liquor cabinet.
10. Gambling – – technology can help to assess when a loved one leaves the home and if they have their GPS enabled Cell phone, shoes or watch, a worried caregiver could be notified if they leave a designated perimeter (mostly used for wandering, dementia, etc)
Granted, there are many other (additional) ways to detect and mitigate these 10 secrets, but I wanted to note that there are some assistive technology solutions out there that are designed to enable a caregiver (call it a super caregiver) to become more aware (even if they don’t live close by) of how a loved one is doing. Because, after all, that’s what we all desire – for our loved one to be safe, be able to stay home (if that’s where he/she would like to be), stay virtually connected/socialized and continue to go about normal daily activities. These technologies were created so these four things could easily & instantaneously happen!
by Laura Mitchell, VP Marketing, GrandCare Systems
GrandCare is a comprehensive digital home health system combining aspects of home automation, activity of daily living monitoring, telehealth sensors, video chat, Internet communications and Social media, using a simple interactive TouchScreen (requires zero previous computer experience).
www.grandcare.com firstname.lastname@example.org 262-338-6147
Read the entire article:
Top 10 Secrets That Aging Parents Keep and what to do about it
Your aging parent may be keeping secrets from you. Not necessarily lies, but withholding of information that may be important to their health, safety or general well-being.
Often, as people age, they become embarrassed when they have to ask for help, or require assistance in their care. So they cover up bruises, accidents and money trouble in an attempt to maintain their independence.
From falls to spending habits and from abuse to car accidents, there are a range of “secrets” that elders tend to keep, according to Marilyn Sharbach Ladew, MSW, a nationally recognized expert in senior caregiving….