Category Archives: Technology

Technology And The Caregiver

Today’s technology can help make caring for an aging loved one, especially from a long distance, easier. Whether you’re using smart phone technology, a computer or even a home medical alert device, these technologies allow you to be almost instantly in touch and a home medical alert device provides peace of mind that at the touch of a button, your aging loved one will have access to a trained professional who can summon emergency medical care.

One of the most recent technologies to make its way into homes are “smart watches.” From Samsung to Apple, smart watches provide access to health monitoring and information in the form of a wristwatch. Many of these watches monitor blood pressure, track the amount of steps taken on a daily basis and can help you track calories.

Apple will be providing an app called a HealthKit while Samsung currently offers its S-Health tracker in addition to other apps available in the market place. If your aging loved one, or in fact, anyone of any age with a health issue is in possession of one of these smart watches, it is a place in which all health care data and information can be tracked and accessed all in one easy to monitor location. Parents who have a child who needs to monitor blood glucose levels welcome this technology because it lets them track their levels from a distance.

The heart rate monitors may be ideal for those who need to track heart rates, blood pressure and pulse. This information could be set up to be sent to a health care provider, a family member or other virtual location.

This technology, much like the home medical alert devices, allows a caregiver to have immediate and constant access to the health of a loved one. It also provides peace of mind for a caregiver who may need to run errands or be otherwise out of the home or out of touch for an extended period of time. If your loved one lives in an assisted living situation, this health information could be relayed to a monitoring station that the nursing staff can track.

In the case of an elderly parent who is coping with more than one chronic condition: heart disease, blood pressure issues, Alzheimer’s, diabetes or others, this is a technology that provides caregivers with the vital information needed to know whether their loved one is healthy or in crisis. It also makes trips to doctor’s visits easier because vital information can be relayed and tracked prior to the visit and will assure no information will be missed during a discussion.

Medical Alert SystemWhether you want to invest in smart watch technology, an easy-to-use computer or a personal medical alert system, these are pieces of equipment that serve multiple functions in addition to adding to your peace of mind as a caregiver.

Robot’s As Companions

thEarlier this year, a Collaborative Robots Workshop was held in Boston. At this event, there was a demonstration on how humans could work with robots and discussed ways to help people get more comfortable with robots and robotic technology.

Robotics engineers discussed the subject of “human acceptance” of robots as an integral part of their lives. A robot referred to as a “home assistance robot” was displayed during the workshop as one that could potentially provide both emotional support and assistance with simple household tasks. The robots could also be a companion for an elderly individual who is living alone and lacks the ability to interact with friends or family.

Senior adults who participated at the workshop indicated they’d be hesitant to use the devices and younger individuals considered whether they may find themselves becoming too dependent on it and close themselves off from friends and family. Individuals who design robots need to consider what kind of controls would need to be added into a robot that could help an adult monitor its use by a child to make certain the child doesn’t begin to isolate himself. Just as people can become dependent upon or attached to a computer, video game, social media or smartphones, the concern arose as to whether people could become dependent upon robots.

Companion robots may never be found in homes across the country but researchers are looking for ways to provide individuals with company to prevent them from being isolated as they age.

While they sound pretty cool, if you could provide a robot to one of your loved ones, do you think you would?

Web Technologies Make Being Away From Elderly Loved One Easier For The Caregiver

If you become a caregiver to an aging parent or relative you will find that one of the most difficult parts of that role is trying to keep up with everything – your own personal life and the needs of your loved ones. This can be made even more difficult if you are involved in a long distance caregiving situation. While it may seem overwhelming, and it will be at times, being organized will make the situation less stressful.

When you’re in the role of caregiver you are not only involved in the care of a relative but you are also likely going to be expected to keep the rest of the family and friends apprised of what is happening. How can you be expected to juggle all of the balls that will be tossed your way? Here are some web-based tools and technologies that can help:

  • Using a checklist or marking items on a calendar are certainly good ways to keep yourself on track with the tasks that need your attention. You may also need to find electronic means to do this as well, especially if you’re looking to friends and family members to help with some of the caregiving chores such as buying groceries or taking your parents to doctor’s visits.
  • Consider conference calls as a way to keep in touch with family members as it’s a great way to get everyone on the phone at the same time to discuss concerns or to merely catch everybody up on what’s been going on with your loved ones. A conference call is much better, and much easier to coordinate, than to make individual phone calls and it also keeps everyone on the same page as to what’s going on and what needs to happen.
  • Consider setting up a blog page as a way to share photos between family members and to keep your elderly relatives involved in what’s going on with the children and grandchildren. You can upload photos and brief blurbs of what is happening in everyone’s lives. If your relatives aren’t tech savvy the caregiver can spend some time with them getting them online and letting them read what’s going on in the family.
  • Social media pages are also great, free, ways to stay in touch. You can set up a private group within Facebook and it can be a spot (in case you don’t want to set up a blog) where photos can be uploaded and you can share status updates with the family. It’s a great, all in one location, in which everyone can interact.
  • If your relatives are tech-savvy enough, or if they’re not, you can  help them when you’re there on a visit, set up a webcam and have video chats with other family members. Webcam chats are a great way to let your elderly family members feel closer to everyone because they will be able to have face-to-face interaction. Imagine if the family lives out of town and you (as the caregiver) live in the same area as your aging parents you could feel as if you were part of family parties and holidays through the use of a webcam.

Keeping all family members involved in the ongoing conversation of the care of aging relatives helps to relieve caregiver stress as well as keeping everyone in touch. Technologies can also help your relatives age in place, especially if they are tech-savvy, as the internet can make them feel more connected and less alone.

Caregiving Technology

Medical science has improved tremendously over the past century or so, which is allowing people to live much longer lives. However, as some people age and become elderly, they are no longer able to take care of themselves. When that happens, it often forces that person’s family members to make some very difficult decisions. If you have taken on the role of a caregiver, then you just might find some of the technology that is presently available quite helpful.

Web Cams – While this option might seem like an obvious choice, is not used nearly as much as it could be. When you set up web cams throughout a persons living quarters, it gives the caregiver the ability to monitor their patient 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Web cams are not expensive, nor are they very difficult to install and can be used when the caregiver is not living with the patient.

Personal Health Record Tracking – This is a free mobile application that is usually used on iPads  and iPhones and it provides the caregiver the ability to instantly transfer a patient’s medical records to any facility in the case of an emergency. All doctors want to know exactly what they are dealing with, and having a complete up to date set of medical records significantly improves their ability to diagnose a health problem, and implement a treatment program in the least amount of time possible.

Caregiving Daily Tasks Applications – Each patient a caregiver is in charge of requires different treatment methods. Some might need special diets, others should have their medicines administered at exact intervals, and still others might want to be exercised or cleaned on a daily or semi-daily basis. Today, there are free applications that are available for smart phones that allow the caregiver to program in their patient’s schedule and other individual requirements into the phone. This allows them to know precisely what needs to be done and when it should to be completed.

Skype or other VOIP Systems – One of the most important things that a caregiver needs to do regularly is communicate with their patients. Skype is a VOIP system that can be setup on a smart phone that not only allows you to speak with a person anywhere in the world, but also have a live video feed.

Caregiving technology has improved a great deal in the past twenty years, and more innovations are ahead in the future. Keeping up with technology in caregiving will aid those providing care to one or many care recipients, making duties just a little easier.