January 3, 2023
In a previous article, we looked at different ways to care for our aging parents. Specifically, we described the modern elderly monitoring systems, as well as the simple tips that we can put into practice right away to ensure a safer and less stressful life.
Let's take a closer look at how remote monitoring solutions may assist and even empower caregivers and seniors alike.
But first, consider the larger context and why individuals and facilities choose monitoring technology for elders.
The world's elderly population is rapidly increasing. What effect does this have on our approach to caregiving?
According to a U.N. report on world population ageing, one in six individuals will be over 65 years old by 2050. By comparison, only one in 11 people was over 65 in 2019.
Also, in 2019, Americans aged 65 and above made up 16 percent of the population. The senior population is expected to reach almost 22 percent by 2040.
This is due to the continuous fall in fertility rates and an increased life expectancy, both of which have extensive causes.
The “longevity revolution”, however, is likely to impact our society, and governments will need to adopt measures to prevent poverty and social exclusion among older adults. Better healthcare, education, and employment policies are critical for a sustainable future.
On a micro-level, we see the need for each of us to do our part to ensure seniors adequate conditions for a secure and comfortable life—either in their own homes or in age-in-place alternatives.
Many retirement homes across the United States use various monitoring systems—such as cameras in public spaces and motion sensors—to follow the residents’ behavior and evaluate their well-being as carefully as possible.
One study compared two similar assisted living facilities for a year; one used a passive monitoring system (based on sensors), and the other did not. In short, the facility that used monitoring technology had a greater resident retention rate: 63 percent of seniors versus 49 percent in the nursing home that did not use such a monitoring system.
Another important outcome was a considerable reduction in the number of injuries thanks to the fall detection sensors. Studies have revealed that 30 to 40 percent of seniors fall each year, resulting in serious injuries. Falls can occur mainly because of cognitive impairments or reduced strength and balance.
Over the last decades, more family caregivers have looked into solutions that might be used at home, thus encouraging the development of more effective and discreet senior safety devices.
Let’s explore some examples in which senior home monitoring systems can effectively improve elderly citizens’ lives.
Despite the challenges, retirement is supposed to be a time to relax, restart long-neglected hobbies, spend more time with family members, and maybe even take a new class or get a part-time job you truly enjoy.
And what could be more fulfilling than being able to care for yourself in order to participate in the delightful activities mentioned above? That is why most Americans want to age in place—in their homes and communities.
It makes us happy to see our elderly parents or grandparents living life on their own terms. However, in order to support their decision, it is necessary to invest in their safety at a certain point, especially if they live alone.
Fortunately, devices based on home sensors and machine learning, for example, can let elders stay in their homes for an extended period of time.
Granted, the term “monitoring” (“monit” means “warned” in Latin) doesn’t exactly hint at the idea of independent living. But appearances aren’t everything.
Of course, we usually discourage the use of surveillance cameras in private homes because they are intrusive and have many limitations. Most of all, seniors are almost always opposed to them because they take a toll on their sense of dignity.
A better approach is to use technology that is much more discreet and effective, like home sensors.
CareAlert, for example, is a product that we’ve created over the past few years. One of its essential aspects is that it respects your privacy; it doesn’t record audio or video content.
The possibility of cognitive decline in later life poses significant concerns. That is why the decision between ageing in place (with or without the assistance of an in-home nurse) and relocating to a nursing facility requires careful consideration.
Whichever option you select, wearing a device to check the vital signs or using another kind of monitoring technology can make the caregivers' job much easier.
Devices like PERS (personal emergency response systems) are a traditional and, in most situations, reliable solution because they provide 24-hour monitoring and promptly inform authorities in the event of an accident.
Many gadgets can be of tremendous help in tracking vital signs, but in order to be effective, the user must be familiarized with them. For example, fitness bands that monitor your sleep can be useful, but they sometimes require a mobile application to display the results. So, if your parents are interested in technology, they may get the hang of it.
Otherwise, returning to CareAlert as an example, it’s worth noting that it monitors essential living parameters (like temperature, air quality, and motion) and can be connected to other devices that record vital signs. The key advantage is that it doesn’t require much intervention from the senior because it connects directly to the caregiver.
A practical example of the device in action would be if it detects or interprets symptoms like disrupted sleep patterns or a lack of mobility and sociability. These symptoms may be early signs of depression.
Although some monitoring systems are more expensive, initiatives like the federal-state health program can assist people with a lower income.
Aside from that, there’s the old saying that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and senior home monitoring systems deliver in that regard. They are also less expensive than private in-home monitoring or living in a nursing facility.
Having said that, we can’t deny the difficulty of accessing financial aid in many regions of the world. We hope to see more healthcare reforms, as advocated by the United Nations in the above report.
Caregivers have a lot to gain when senior relatives employ home monitoring systems. Let's take a look at a few of these advantages.
These are just a few thoughts that can race through our minds daily.
The greatest benefit that elderly monitoring systems may provide to family caregivers, whether they reside near their elderly relatives or not, is probably relief.
Depending on the system, you know that if something goes wrong, the authorities will be contacted immediately, or you will receive an update on your phone—as is the case with CareAlert.
When it comes to long-distance caregiving, an elderly monitoring system can be a valuable tool in addition to other measures you can take, like providing financial and emotional support.
Unfortunately, studies show that the leading cause of death among adults 65 and older is falling. Other preventable accidents are choking, poisoning, and fires.
Although the data on preventable deaths in homes is upsetting, it’s necessary to discuss and raise awareness.
There are low-cost, simple measures, like installing handrails to avoid trips and falls, and gas leak detectors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, more modern alternatives are available, such as installing sensors around the house that detect abnormal activity or possess a fall detection feature.
When it comes to fall detection, specifically, there are different types of sensors for monitors, like triaxial accelerometers that detect movement (similarly to the step counter feature on your smartphone). Research is continually progressing in this field to increase accuracy and applicability.
Senior home monitoring systems—machine learning technology, in particular—are still young, with a lot of untapped potential.
Being an early adopter helps fund the research to develop better products. Essentially, you are not only helping your loved ones; you are indirectly supporting a large (growing) demographic.
Furthermore, you are even helping your future self—because you, too, will get old eventually.
Remember that we didn’t have home security systems 50 years ago (they were only created in the 1970s). Now we have Artificial Intelligence-based devices. Imagine what we will be capable of doing in 50 years.
We explored ten major benefits of using elderly monitoring systems from two perspectives: that of the caregiver and that of the elderly parent.
If you are looking for an elderly monitoring system suitable for your parent or another elderly loved one, you are welcome to check out our CareAlert home monitoring devices. For any inquiries, please email us at email@example.com
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