Nursing facilities and other senior care centers provide adequate care for our country’s citizens as they grow older. Some, however, prefer to live out the rest of their lives in homes they already know. With Baby Boomers aging and the US Census Bureau finding that more adults are entering their twilight years without children, aging-in-place may become more widespread among your older patients. Fortunately, smart home systems that include modern innovations like the Internet of Things (IoT), telehealth, and wearable technology mean seniors who choose to age in place can approximate the quality of care afforded to those who decide to head to the nursing home. Below, we discuss some of these tools that you can recommend to patients wishing to age in place.
Healthcare Smart Home Technology
Many of the modern conveniences offered by smart home technology like IoT can easily be leveraged by seniors aging-in-place. Transportation, grocery, and meal delivery services can easily be accessed through smartphone apps. However, research from the journal Wellbeing, Space and Society recommends taking this further through healthcare smart homes (HSH). Even seniors who aren’t that technologically savvy can use voice-activated tools — like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa —that are integrated into smart home systems. This would allow them to do several hands-free tasks, such as adjusting their home’s lighting and temperature, activating automated watering systems in the garden, and even tightening their security system. As a result, HSH can help seniors streamline their routines, make them comfortable, and ultimately maintain their independence.
The guide for professionals titled, How To Use Telehealth For Seniors, explains that seniors are among the patients who can benefit from telehealth the most. Telehealth can be less expensive than in-person visits, especially for patients with mobility issues. By keeping appointments at home, patients don’t need to spend money on commutes or arranging for limited or costly handicapped-friendly modes of transportation. Video calls also give telehealth professionals a peek into a patient’s living conditions, which allows you to construct a fuller picture of their health to prescribe more appropriate and effective treatments. Most importantly, its convenience allows for greater continuity of care by incentivizing patients to keep their appointments. In turn — and this can be a valuable benefit for seniors — patients experience a lowered risk of unnecessary hospital visits.
Wearable devices are beneficial to seniors across the board, regardless of whether they use telehealth. Multipurpose items like smartwatches can remind users about their medication schedules for everyday maintenance. They’re also great for monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, and glucose levels. Wearable technology is also extremely helpful in emergencies. SymptomFind explains how safety alert devices can help in such situations: wearers need to press a button or voice a command to call on emergency services. Finally, wearable technology can go beyond simply helping seniors monitor their health. Since they can send information on a patient’s vitals directly to their healthcare provider, Today’s Geriatric Medicine lists wearable technology as a modern innovation that can help senior patients fully experience telehealth benefits.
Today, nursing facilities need not be the end-all-be-all of senior healthcare. By recommending the above benefits of select modern tools, seniors can use aging-in-place technology to choose how they want to live the rest of their lives.
What is Telehealth? Basic Technology Orientation for the Busy Practitioner
In this 2.5 hour, basic technology training, you will find a well-organized discussion of relevant basic research along with practical suggestions for making foundational decisions about your digital practice with cloud storage, backups systems, security software such as VPNs, HIPAA compliance and software purchasing, synchronous and asynchronous technologies, and much more.