A quarter of the seniors in the United States have issues performing at least one activity of daily living (ADL), and since physical limitations increase with age, that statistic doubles by the time they reach 85 years of age. Other than the seniors living in nursing homes or hospitals, nearly one third of seniors live alone. With so many seniors living at home alone and in need of at least some assistance, it can be hard for family members to have peace of mind when they live far away. Luckily, technology, apps, and services are available to keep senior loved ones safe and connected with family members.
While spending time in person is ideal, when loved ones are far apart, that’s not possible. A phone call is fine, but a face-to-face video chat is the next best thing to being in person. Simply seeing your face helps your loved one feel more connected, and you can allow him or her to watch baseball games and first steps of grandchildren in real time. There are many options available that support video chatting, so choose one that fits your loved one’s comfort level. He or she can use a computer, television, cell phone, or a special home videophone.
Many healthcare providers, including family physicians, hospitals, and specialists, are utilizing online portals that allow patients to make appointments online, view results and summaries from visits and tests, request refills, ask simple medical questions, and track trends in their health (such as weight, blood pressure, and other lab work). With your loved one’s login, you can have access to all of this information, so you can help make appointments, know exactly what the doctor suggested, and more.
To prevent falls and monitor the health of elderly loved ones, many people rely on wearable technology and smart home technologies. Devices such as Reemo – a wearable device that looks like a watch – are all in one. Reemo tracks steps, heart rate, sleep patterns, and motions in real-time. You can receive updates about a light being turned on or how often the door was opened throughout the day, which can be helpful in the event of a fall or in preventing those Alzheimer’s from wondering. All the information is collected and uploaded in the cloud for the family or caregiver to view.
Of course, technology can’t do it all, and for those tasks, you may need to hire help. There are many levels of in-home care for seniors, and the right option will depend on the health and mobility of your loved one, as well as your comfort level. For example, your loved one may only need help with cleaning and errands, or he or she may need assistance during most hours of the day.
Some seniors require a visiting nurse, who’s typically a Registered nurse (RN), to visit their home to provide some medical care, rehabilitation, and hospice services. Other seniors don’t need medical care, but still need help from a companion or caregiver who comes to the home to assist with different tasks. Typically, the more assistance they provide, the higher the cost. While medical care isn’t offered, they provide social stimulation and assistance with driving, shopping, grooming, and light housekeeping.
If your loved one simply needs help with housework, you can hire a cleaning service to stop by the home. Some seniors will also need help with other tasks, such as caring for their pets. For example, you may need to hire someone to walk the dog, especially if your loved one has mobility issues. You can schedule someone to come at specific times so your loved one will never have to worry about his or her dog not getting adequate exercise.
Being far away from an elderly loved one doesn’t mean you can’t provide care for him or her. It simply means that you provide care in a different way. Thanks to technology and care services, even if you’re not close by, you can stay connected with your loved one and monitor his or her health and safety.