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 Vanessa Calouro
An innocent teddy bear sits in the hallway. He sits there, paws politely in his lap, looking over his domain with his vast glass eyes. There is a smile stitched onto his face and looking at his cute button nose it seems as if he is impossible of causing a catastrophe, or is he? As he sits there, his back to the occupied bedroom, he is oblivious to an elderly woman shuffling her way to the bathroom. Without her glasses, she is nearly blind to her surroundings. She has no idea her grandson left his favorite companion sitting in the hallway and before she knows it, she is sprawled on the floor, knocked out cold, a fracture decorating her skull. She didn’t even have time to call for help as her fragile, brittle body crashed into the hardwood floor.
Her husband, meanwhile, leisurely fiddles around with the new gizmo his daughter gave him for Christmas. She had called it a tablet and promised that he could read books and play games on it. He was eager at the hopeful perspective, but now he couldn’t even turn the darn thing on. As he itched his head in frustration, he wondered if his daughter had played a joke on him, giving him a useless paperweight. Getting annoyed, he rolled out bed planning to surprise his wife with breakfast before she finished in the bathroom.
He grabbed his glasses and shuffled his way out of the room. He stopped dead in his tracks when he caught sight of his wife’s lifeless body. His stomach filled with bile as he noted the dreadful dark crimson staining the cherry wood floor. He didn’t even pay mind to the innocent teddy bear leaning against the wall, trying to recuperate from the trampling he had just experienced. Morty rushed forward quickly, his voice stuck in his throat. He didn’t call for help, he didn’t remember he was years beyond running, all he thought of was reaching his wife. But he should have remembered that sore joints and slippery loafers create a deadly combination indeed. With a slip of his foot, he found himself beside his wife, both of them in an eternal slumber.
While this story ended in catastrophe, not all elderly couples slip to their deaths. No, instead technology is making it possible for the elderly to live comfortably in their homes. Imagine now, if Morty’s tablet had been synced to various in home features. Imagine if it kept record of their daily activities around the house from using the bathroom to watching TV. Now imagine if that information was recorded in a simple app that even Morty could understand. That information could be linked directly to Morty and Margret’s children, notifying them if anything is amiss. If this had been the case, their children would have been notified after the couple hadn’t done anything for an extended period of time. Now if Morty and Margret had not regrettably succumbed to their deaths, then maybe the children would have gotten into the home in time to assist their elderly parents.
Still, that type of technology would not have helped Margret and Morty in that specific situation. Even with the above app technology the children would still come home to find their parents dead. Therefore, what variety of technology is available to prevent similar tragedies? Well, why did Margret fall? She was blind to the teddy bear without her glasses. What if Margret also had a tablet and it reminded her every morning to put on her glasses? If this was the case, the disaster might have been avoided.
This story, thus, demonstrates the potential of in-home care to adopt app technology. Apps will allow the elderly to live independently, while reminding them of needed tasks. They can also monitor needed data, such as Morty’s high blood pressure or Margret’s blood sugar level. All this data could be examined and sent to a doctor immediately. Also apps can notify children, doctors, or emergency services in case anything goes amiss. Technology is now becoming the safety net for people who need in-home care, but who still desire their own level of independence.
Vanessa is currently enrolled at Brown University pursuing a degree in Health and Human Biology and Nonfiction Writing.