Many people prefer to age in place these days, and if you are attempting to support a loved one from afar, it’s especially challenging. Your mom or dad may be too many miles away for you to drop in for a check, but thankfully, technology is coming to the rescue. Advances in sensors, online resources, apps, and gadgets are inspiring.
Here is some of what’s out there:
Motion sensors like “Silver Mother” are available to help you keep tabs on seniors. This wireless monitoring system notifies you if anything in your loved one’s activity seems amiss. Sensors attach to objects used in everyday life, such as toilets, doors, and refrigerators.
Worried that your parent will forget a medication? Huffington Post notes that computerized pillboxes like Medminder help keep your loved one on track and alert you if a dosage is missed.
Video camera services such as Nest Cam monitor your parent’s activity. It’s best to ask your senior if video monitoring would feel intrusive, but rest assured that many seniors are comfortable and even prefer the systems, according to Savvy Senior. These systems aren’t as obvious as they used to be. They are streamlined, sleek and installation is simple.
There are some exciting smartwatches on the market designed specifically for seniors. The experts at Time explain that while they look like normal fashion accessories, smartwatches from companies like Unaliwear and Lively have alert buttons and allow the wearer to text you. They also offer features such as medication reminders and activity trackers, and can also give directions on how to get back home if one wanders off or becomes confused.
If your senior’s health care information is becoming unwieldy, some experts advise choosing an app like CareZone to keep things organized. It helps you stay on top of medications, allergies and insurance information.
Looking for something that offers a variety of information and utilities in one place? Try the Elder 411 app. This app was designed by a geriatric physician to perform many functions, from allowing you to communicate with your senior to providing safety advice. It offers general, basic caregiving information, and even includes tips for managing stress.
Many families need to divide duties, which can make caregiving easier but communication more complex. If you are trying to navigate multiple schedules and arrangements, CaringBridge is a great option. You and other family members can view and manage appointments, health concerns, and other information.
If your loved one is still able to remain at home but needs some in-home assistance, Care.com offers an app to help you arrange temporary, specialized care.
Of course, some seniors are not going to be able to stay at home. The reality is that there are times when a senior living facility is the healthiest and safest option.
If you’re giving long-distance care to aging loved ones, use technology to make life better. Options are diverse and exciting. And if you find it’s time to arrange for life in a facility, approach the matter carefully and sensitively.
Marie Villeza is a contributing writer and local care expert for ElderImpact.org based out of Boulder, CO.