We have come a long way since help, I have fallen and I can’t get up and the panic button technology of the past century. As your older parent or other loved one lives more years in their home, you as a caregiver can help make home safer from falls and easier to access for adults who choose to age in place in their own homes. Technology now takes us to a whole new age of medical safety and security. Some experts already are talking about a day not too far off when medical technology and artificial intelligence will combine to actually predict emergencies in the home before they happen.
The panic button is now being replaced by home monitoring devices that can call when the button is depressed to allow the elder to speak with someone to determine what kind of emergency response will be most appropriate. Such devices now also can be linked with integrative care platform software that will take vital signs and transmit to a health care provider. They also link to interviews tailored to the elder’s chronic condition – COPD, diabetes, congestive heart failure, or problems clotting. Providers can manage medications at distance or schedule appointments when face-time is needed. Complementing the interviews are devices that transmit blood tests for diabetics, heart rate and blood pressure for cardiac patients and lung capacity for COPD or asthma patients.
There also are medication dispensers that sound alarms for prescriptions on a fixed schedule, and the device also will lock a person out after the med is taken to avoid inadvertent dosing. Filling the dispenser and setting the schedule is as easy as setting an alarm clock, and the system locks so that a caregiver can oversee medication compliance.
Devices for the kitchen use preset timers or motion detectors to turn off a stove if the burners are left unattended. There are even pressure mats that can be placed beside an elder’s bed to register when they get out of bed or at a door to note when a person leaves the house. Some homes are now using the same security alarms that warn of forced entry to alert a caregiver when an elder may be leaving the house unattended.
The technology of all this box and button market has not caught on in the United States as rapidly as in Europe, because in those countries the national health plans pay for them as ways to reduce costs and improve quality of life. Here, Medicare does not yet cover such devices. If you want learn more information, check out some of these web sites: