Ninety percent of seniors say they want to age in place, according to AARP. They like their independence. But that independence may come at the price of “peace of mind” for their adult children and others who love and care for them. What if they fall? What if they can’t get to the telephone? Will they remember to take their meds?
Fortunately, we live in the age of technology. And there are a number of technologies on the market designed to keep older adults who live alone safe, secure and independent.
This is the first in a two-part series about age-in-place technology. In Part 1 we’ll look at some tools designed to help keep your aging loved one safe. In Part 2 we’ll look at tools designed to help families with loved ones suffering from dementia or Parkinson’s disease.
Here are some technologies to help your aging loved one stay safe at home.
Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)
Falls are the most common source of injury for adults 65 and over. PERS alert designated caregivers or first responders in the event of a user’s fall or other emergency. Some even have automatic fall detection. They include the traditional one-button pendant and devices worn on the wrist. A few of the top-rated are: MedicalAlert, LifeStation, and Philips Lifeline.
Home Safety Systems
These systems include various detectors, e.g., motion, leak, flood, that can be strategically placed throughout the house and provide you with an alert when there’s a disruption. Some include communication features and alerts that allow you to check in with your loved one from wherever you are. According to SafeHome.org, the top 5 home monitoring systems for seniors are:
- Protect America
Health Monitoring Systems
These devices can monitor your loved one’s health
between doctor visits and proactively identify an issue. Some, like Apple Watch
and Fitbit, which track activity, blood pressure, and heart rate, can be
purchased by the consumer. Others, like BodyGuardian
Heart, which sticks directly onto the skin and tracks activity and vital
signs, must be prescribed by a doctor. In this case, the doctor has access to a
portal that provides the data they need to contact the wearer or make updated
recommendations regarding treatment/health.
Motion-Activated Lights and Reminders
Falls suffered by older adults often occur when they get up at night to use the bathroom. Motion-activated lights can prevent them needing to fumble around to find the switch, or worse, trying to move around in the dark. Another idea is to install a motion-sensitive device by the front door to trigger a reminder for them to lock the door or to check the identity of a person at the door before opening it. Ring or other smart doorbells can also add to their security.
Other smart technologies
- Landline or mobile phones equipped with large, high-visibility displays and enhanced volume controls
- Devices that are designed for those who have arthritis, such as keyless entry locks and remote control devices to operate curtains and blinds
- Personal assistance devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home with features that can set reminders to take medications
Tune in next time when we’ll expand our discussion to devices designed to provide peace of mind for families caring for a loved one with dementia or Parkinson’s.