There’s a technology solution for pretty much everything these days. You can use an app to unlock your front door, even if you’re far from home. Smart thermostats can adjust the temperature throughout the day to help you save energy. Even your car may have an onboard system that lets you call for help if you break down. And there are also a growing number of technology solutions designed to help you care for your parents as they get older, whether you live nearby or across the country.
What technology tools are available?
Many of these technology tools are designed to help your aging parents maintain more independence and continue to live in their home, even though they may be living with a range of health problems. These tools include:
- Automated medication dispensing systems: These systems can be helpful if your parents take several different medications with different dosing schedules. The goal of the system is to ensure that your parents take the proper dose of medication at the right time and don’t miss doses or take too much of a medication. Here’s how these types of systems work. A caregiver fills a tray with the appropriate doses of medications. Then the tray is placed inside the device and the caregiver uses an online portal or app to program when the doses should be unlocked and a signal sounded to alert your parent it’s time for the medication. The devices can also be programmed to alert the caregiver if the medication is not taken.
- Emergency response and activity tracking systems: In addition to the long available wearable, push button emergency alert pendants, there are also smartwatch-style systems that monitor activity and alert you if your parent has not moved (an indication that he or she may have fallen or be having a medical emergency) and can also track the wearer’s heart rate and rhythm, which can be valuable for a parent with a heart problems like atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia. There are even whole house systems that use wireless sensors to track movement and can gather information from internet-connected health monitoring devices like blood glucose meters.
- GPS tracking systems: There are small, discreet GPS trackers that can be helpful if your parent has cognitive issues and is at risk of wandering or getting lost. The trackers are available in a range of configurations, including smartwatches, inserts that are placed in the shoe, and tags that can be attached to clothing, keys, or other items your parents may carry with them.
- Tools for staying in touch with in-home caregivers: Developers have created apps that help you know when your parents’ caregiver arrives and leaves. Some apps also let you search for and schedule care and communicate with your parents’ caregivers so you know how your parents are doing day to day.
While technology can be helpful, it’s no substitute for caregivers and other support services designed to help you aging parents manage their health and wellbeing.