Would you or your aging parents like to avoid going into a nursing home and remain independent as long as possible, despite concerns about health, falls, declining memory or similar problems? In the past, many senior citizens have gone into assisted living or skilled nursing facilities because family members were concerned that they could fall, wander off or were not taking their medications and eating properly. Today, modern technology is allowing many people to age in place and stay in their own homes much longer than ever before.
While not everyone is likely to need all the different types of technology that are available to keep them safe, just using a few of the items listed here could help you stay in your home for years longer than you thought possible. Below are a selection of great innovations.
Independent Living Technology to Assist Senior Citizens
PERS Providers (Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems)
There are a number of excellent PERS providers. Each one has its own benefits, so it would be wise to check out several to see which system will bring you and your family members the most peace of mind. Anyone with a serious illness that could cause them to faint or become confused would benefit from owning a system and keeping the device with them all the time. PERS are also a good idea for healthy retirees who spend a lot of time alone.
GreatCall 5 Star Urgent Response System - This system can be used at home or when traveling ... either in your own neighborhood or around the United States. Once you have purchased the inexpensive equipment, you then sign up for affordable monthly monitoring. After it is set up, all the owner of the device has to do in order to summon help is push a button on a small device they wear as a pendant, bracelet or attached to a belt. They can get in touch with a real person in the event they fall, become ill, or get confused or lost. They will automatically be connected to trained emergency agents who can then determine what type of help they need and whether to call an ambulance, or connect the client to a nurse, neighbor or relative. You provide them with a list of emergency numbers to call and they will contact these people when you need help. It is very reassuring to know that, at the very least, a neighbor or friend could come over if something happens. It is a GPS system, so the agents can find you if you become lost, no matter where you are within the United States.
You can use this Amazon link to learn more about the devices: GreatCall 5 Star devices from Amazon.
You can also contact: www.greatcall.com
Connect America - This is another mobile emergency response system that travels with you, wherever you go. You can compare prices of their devices and the monthly monitoring fee with the other devices listed here.
Life Alert - This system is similar to the others and has the additional option that it can be set up on your smartphone, so it will speed-dial the monitoring agency for you from your phone, as well as on the pendant you wear.
Mobile Help - This company provides a combination mobile PERS system with a home base station. Depending on the arrangements you make, the response team can both call and email your family to let them know where you are, including if you have been taken to a hospital. In addition, it has a fall detection system that will summon help, even if you are not able to push the button or speak. This system is particularly advantageous for someone who is in danger of passing out.
Philips Lifeline with Auto Alert - This is an affordable personal emergency response device that currently only works using a base station in your home. Like most systems, the senior citizen wears a help button as a pendant or bracelet. This device also has the ability to detect a fall and connect you to a response center.
Another reason why some people need to go into nursing homes is because they fail to take life-saving medication at the correct times. The MedMinder aggressively alerts you so you know when it is time to take your medication. You can purchase either a locking or non-locking medication tray. The locking tray unlocks the compartment when it is time to take the medication. The dispenser flashes and beeps until the medication is taken. There are also voice alarms and automated phone calls. A relative can log onto the website and see if the medication has been taken. If you wish, they will also receive an email, text or phone call if the medication has not been taken in a timely manner. With this system, either you or a caregiver will need to fill the medication tray once a week. This can minimize the frequency of visits from a caregiver, save you money, and make it possible to stay in your own home.
This is a simple voice activated alarm clock that reminds you to take your medicine. It is a much simpler device than the MedMinder, but works fine for many people who do not need such an aggressive reminder.
Grand Care Systems
Do you feel that you or your loved one needs a more comprehensive type of medical monitoring system? Then the Grand Care system may be the right choice for your family. With Grand Care, you place wireless sensors around the house and link them to the company via the internet. The sensors can track daily activity so that you are assured that your loved one is moving around, opening the refrigerator, etc. It can also monitor the person's glucose, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, their weight, etc. It comes with an interactive touch screen that allows seniors to video chat with their family or simply watch videos, use Facebook or play games. This can be perfect in families that are able to visit a few times a week and they just want some reassurance that everything is OK between their visits.
Which Independent Living Technology is Best for You?
Since I currently live in a retirement community, I have noticed that several people I know are subscribing to mobile personal emergency response systems. Most of them are deciding to do this on their own, without being urged to do so by their adult children. Sometimes they make the decision because they or someone they know has experienced a traumatic event, such as fall or heart attack, when they were home alone. This is something you can do entirely on your own, without involving other family members. In fact, you can choose to just give the emergency dispatch team the numbers of your doctors, ambulance service and neighbors, rather than family members, if you do not have a family member who is close enough to provide assistance. Which people they will contact is entirely up to you.
If you worry about taking your medication on time, either you or a caregiver can set up the MedMinder or Reminder Rosie. Even if you do not have memory problems, these devices can help assure you that you are taking your medication exactly as prescribed.
The GrandCare system works best if there is a relative or caregiver who will be available to monitor and interact with the person being monitored. It is especially useful for families that are concerned about an elderly diabetic, for example, who may be having difficulty tracking their blood glucose levels and eating at the proper times.
Whichever technology you decide to use, it is reassuring to know that it could help you stay in your home rather than being pressured to move into a nursing home sooner than is absolutely necessary. Today, we are so fortunate to have these types of technology available in our own homes to provide us with the type of assistance we need, when and where we need it.
Currently, Medicaid may help patients pay for some of these devices, if they determine that they are medically necessary. Medicare does not cover any of these items, at this time.
Reference: "Is This the End of The Nursing Home?" AARP Bulletin, March 2014, pg. 20.
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