About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can the healthcare industry use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors?
Essay response by Marcella Johnson
As elderly family members get older and begin to show more and more health concerns, the family may wish to put them in a care facility in order to make sure they will not harm themselves or get in any danger while living alone. While the family may wish to transfer their elderly family member, the senior may want to continue living comfortably in their home. When this happens, in home care is a valuable asset to look into. In home care has many benefits, such as assisting with activities of daily living, or helping with home care. However, one factor in home care is missing, is the use of technology while caring for the elderly. Technology has made great strides over the years and is constantly used and being updated. Technology can assist the elderly when their caregiver or any other person isn’t around to help them.
First off, technology can be used to communicate with family members who can’t come visit, but still wish to be able see talk and see their elderly family member. With apps such as skype and FaceTime, it’s easier to have face to face contact instead of just talking over phone. These apps give assurance that a person is doing okay and living healthy because the viewers are able to see the person as well as hear their voice.
In order to maintain health and wellness while a caregiver is not around there are many apps that serve as reminders. For example, there are apps created to remind the elderly to take their medication at a certain time. These apps can also monitor intake or record statistics. There are pill dispensers that remind what and how much medication to take. Easy to use health systems and monitors are available to the public to buy in order to monitor the health and well-being of the elderly. These devices can be used to record blood pressure, check pulses and even monitor heart rates. For those who have to stick to set diet, there are online nutrition guides as well as apps that allow people to keep track of their food intake and dietary needs. There are also fitness tools available to keep the elderly active and help to relieve joint pain. Gaming systems such as the Wii allow for safe movement as well as fun. There are also games and other devices available to keep the elderly’s brain active and alert when they left alone for periods of time.
Finally, safety is the most important issue many worry about when leaving the elderly to live alone. Although caregivers do come to the home and make sure that everything is clean and neat and safe, there is still the chance that while left alone, the elderly could potentially get hurt with no one around to help. There are in home monitor systems that can send alerts if something in the house goes wrong, such as a flood or other disaster. These monitoring systems allow family members to ensure that the home their elder is living is safe. There are necklaces created to send a help message to the police or other emergency helpers in case of a fall or accident. These were designed so that in case of an emergency where the senior will not be able to reach a phone, they will still be able to receive help as soon as possible.
All in all, these devices are just a few technology available to the elderly to assist with in home care. Unfortunately there will not always be someone there to watch and take care of those who wish to receive care in their home, but with new technology being created, it will be a lot safer for the elderly.
Marcella is currently a freshman at the University of Central Florida working towards a nursing degree.