We have partnered with researchers to find out how people describe their experiences of using wearable devices and/or in-home health related smart technology.
Maintaining a sense of independence helps seniors feel confident in their abilities, live happy lives, and feel content about living on their own.
While independent living should never be at the cost of an older person’s safety, striking the right balance between care and independence is often difficult for carers and family members. With the cost of living increasing, and the reduction in available beds in resthomes, as well as staff to look after seniors, this is becoming more important than ever before.
Understandably, family members may worry about how capable an aging adult is when they cannot be there to help. No one wants to see someone they love harmed or hurt and unable to call for assistance.
On the flip side, stepping in and taking over too many tasks can make seniors feel coddled. Cognitive challenge is vital for older people. Taking too many tasks away from seniors can hasten their physical and mental decline.
Independence allows older adults to make their own choices throughout the day and contributes to feeling good about themselves. Challenging tasks will enable them to maintain their balance and strength, helping them retain muscle mass and core balance. Retaining independence also gives older adults a sense of purpose; they can set and achieve goals throughout the day, which is positive for their mental health.
How can you balance independent living with safety for seniors?
So, how, as carers, can we balance senior independence with making sure they are safe?
Accepting that they need care can be frustrating for some seniors, and, as a family member or carer, it can be hard to know where to draw the line.
If you think an aging adult needs assistance, take a moment to consider these options before you step in.
- Take a step back and observe how the senior deals with specific situations. It’s okay if they are taking longer than usual to complete tasks.
- Let them complete jobs to the best of their abilities. Retaining skills as we age is very important. As a family caregiver, you can help aging adults embrace their skills. For example, you can encourage seniors to do tasks around the home like folding laundry and putting a wash on but step in to help unload the dryer if it involves too much bending over.
- Let them communicate their needs to you. If you’re worried about their abilities, bring it up in conversation but let them tell you what they need help with, rather than the other way around.
- Invest in tools that will help keep them safe. There are many products on the market assisting aging adults complete everyday tasks. From tools that help them reach items they can no longer bend or reach to get to in-home technology, there are many options for keeping independent living a safe option for seniors.
How technology is delivering improved social care
Social care is a general term that refers to the extra support and professional help that seniors may need to complete daily tasks and live comfortably.
Social care comes in many different forms, from family members providing help around the house to professional carers visiting and helping aging adults dress, wash and look after their homes.
New Zealanders of advanced age make up one of the fastest-growing groups in our population, which means more families will need to find ways to support and care for the aging adults in their lives. The good news is that families can now turn to innovative new technology for extra help.
New technology is helping people bridge the gap between providing senior care and a healthy amount of independence. Innovative technology in the home also allows caregivers to take back their time while ensuring they are not taking away opportunities for seniors to take care of themselves.
From wearable devices to sensory systems, technology allows carers the peace of mind that their loved ones are safe without taking away their freedom.
In-Home Smart Sensors from Vigil Care is one such product. Called Memo Hub, in-home sensors gather health and movement data about the senior and send it to the carer’s smartphone via an easy to use dashboard. This allows for a less intrusive way of providing care.
Here are five ways your loved one can benefit from using this technology.
- Aging seniors benefit from fewer intrusions on their time
How often have you called an aging family member just to make sure they are okay? While checking in on your loved ones is admirable, frequent phone calls or unannounced visits can sometimes feel like intrusions on an older adult’s time.
It’s important to remember that seniors are independent adults who are entitled to live their lives on their own schedule. Calling too often or visiting unscheduled can feel like an intrusion on their time. The right technology can help reduce the number of calls family members feel they need to make just for reassurance.
With the Vigil Care Memo Hub, you can check in on the aging adult in your life at a time that suits them. In-home motion sensors will tell you whether your loved one is getting up or moving around for the day. Or, if you’re worried about the lack of active data on a given day, you can call to check that everything is okay.
Now, if your family member misses a phone call, you don’t have to worry about why. If your loved one hasn’t gotten up for the day, you can easily check in on their wellbeing. Memo Hub data is non-invasive for seniors using the system but provides extra peace of mind for families who care for them.
- Carers are alerted immediately if an incident occurs
When caring for aging adults, one of the biggest worries for family members is that they might fall when no-one is there to provide help. In New Zealand, approximately one-third of all people aged 65+ fall each year. However, it’s not just major falls that put them at risk. Even minor falls — ones that an aging person can get back up from — can be bad for their physical and mental health.
The Vigil Care Memo Hub system has fall detection technology that alerts family members when an incident occurs. Family members can reduce the number of ‘checking in’ phone calls without worrying whether or not the aging adult is physically okay. Carers are alerted at the time an incident occurs. Even if the fall is minor, and the aging adult would not have sought medical attention, carers can ensure they seek it.
Memo Hub removes the possibility of your loved one being left unattended after a fall, no matter how minor. Seniors also gain peace of mind knowing that should anything happen, the people who care for them will be alerted in real-time.
- People living with dementia are safer at night
For family members who care for someone with dementia, there is always a fear that they will wander away from home during the night. Wandering is common for people living with dementia and can happen at any stage of the disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, six out of ten dementia sufferers will wander at least once in their life. Many of these patients will wander repeatedly.
Wandering is a difficult and worrying side effect for family members of Alzheimer’s patients as it can feel like nothing can be done. Worse, if you live apart from your aging family member, hours may pass between them leaving home disoriented and someone noticing.
Vigil Care’s Memo Hub has door sensor technology that lets you know if the front door is opened at an unusual time, like late at night. It also lets you know if other exterior doors have been left open. Knowing that your family member has stayed inside all night gives you peace of mind and shows that the dementia patient is most likely safe in a familiar environment.
If your family member is prone to wandering from time to time, you can rest assured as a carer, you will be alerted to these movements as soon as they happen.
- Families gain peace of mind, that’s economical and non-invasive
For many families, providing paid care, even for a few hours a day is unaffordable. This means that the burden of care falls to family members who may also be working full time, raising children, and dealing with additional responsibilities that keep them from being as physically present as they would like.
Even if a senior person can afford to move into assisted living, they may want to enjoy their independence for as long as possible. Technology such as Vigil Care’s Memo Hub provides an affordable alternative for seniors who need extra care. It’s non-invasive and uses motion detectors rather than video to monitor movements.
With the right data in their hands, aging adults, and their families, may find that their care needs are now different. Some families may consider paid support purely because they worry about an aging adult living alone.
With Memo Hub, the carer can see how active their family member is and adjust their care plans accordingly. For carers, they can also reduce the number of calls they make purely for reassurance.
With Memo Hub, families gain peace of mind without missing out on an extra level of care and monitoring they may be able to afford. Spending aside, all families will benefit from adjusting their care plans to meet the real needs of the aging family member, which increases the quality of their life.
- Seniors benefit from statistics regarding their long term health
If you’re living apart from the aging person you care for, it can be hard to get a proper insight into their day to day health and wellbeing. Seniors may not always remember what health changes they are struggling with during or after they occur.
Memo Hub provides easy access to health data to keep your loved ones healthy. With insights on heart rate, blood pressure, changes in movement patterns, blood glucose levels, temperature and pulse information, seniors have access to health information that they can share with their doctors and improve their long term health.
Likewise, these statistics are helpful for family members as well. If they see a drop in movement, they can enquire whether the aging adult is getting enough exercise each day. Likewise, if they notice a spike in heart rate or blood pressure, they can remind their loved one to book a doctor’s appointment as a precautionary measure.
Thanks to in-home technology, finding the right balance between care and independence is no longer difficult. Vigil Care’s Memo Hub system effectively monitors aging family members without infringing on their independence and makes it easier to adjust care plans to suit their individual needs.
Monitor falls, ensure they get out of bed each day, and gain peace of mind knowing they are safe at night, all without intruding on their time. If you care for an aging adult, talk to us today about how the Memo Hub system can help them live a safer, more independent life.