Important Ways Technology Helps Seniors Remain at Home
Savvy aging adults are using several kinds of products that address their health, safety and mental well-being.
Trapollo is a telemedicine service that allows patients to video chat with their medical professionals in real time.
Courtesy Cox Communications
Millions of aging Americans agree with Dorothy when she said, “There’s no place like home.”
According to AARP, 90 percent of people age 65 and older say they prefer to remain in their current residence as they age. But reasons beyond their control often force a move.
Fortunately, technology is helping prolong seniors’ time at home, and most of these appliances and services require the same thing: high-speed internet and/or Wi-Fi.
“We think about Wi-Fi and it seems like we’ve had it forever, but honestly, it has been very recent,” says Bruce Berkinshaw, director of product management with Cox Communications.
The service is expanding and improving as the demand for high-speed connection rises. “While it has come so far in the past 10 years, what it will do in the next 10 years will force us to move further, faster than ever before,” says Tiffani Bruton, director of public affairs with Cox. The company is continuing to increase internet speeds across the service area. Bruton says that 100 percent of Tulsa will be 1G enabled by the end of this year.
Savvy seniors are remaining in their homes longer by using several kinds of products that address their health, safety and mental well-being.
As telemedicine grows in popularity, so does the demand for products to support it, such as Trapollo. The remote health-monitoring system connects patients with clinicians and physicians any time, day or night.
“This is allowing the seniors in the home to feel a bit more independent about health information,” Berkinshaw says, because Trapollo eliminates the need to schedule or drive to an appointment, or for a caregiver to do so.
Berkinshaw says statistics show that the number of doctors’ visits could be reduced by 30-40 percent if more patients could use the teleconference system.
But, do they feel comfortable using the technology? A 2018 survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research says that nearly 9 in 10 adults ages 40 and older would be comfortable using telemedicine for themselves or an aging loved one, but want that virtual encounter to be just as good as an in-person visit and that their private information remains so.
Items like the LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser and the Tricella Smart Pillbox help track and dispense medication. If someone forgets a pill, audio prompts alert of the missed dosage and a text message can be sent to the individual, physician or caregiver, providing a bit of peace of mind.
Automation is becoming popular in American homes. For those with aging relatives living in another house, things like smart door locks, motion sensors and thermostats can provide a sense of security.
Smart door locks can automatically lock at desired times, as well as send text alerts when someone has opened or locked a door.
The same is true with motion sensors, which also can turn on lights when someone enters a room.
“Each alert is adaptable to each person,” Berkinshaw says.
For example, Berkinshaw installed a motion sensor in his mother’s home so that when her garage door goes up, an entry hall and kitchen light illuminate, making it so that his mother doesn’t have to wrestle with a switch, which could lead to a fall.
Boredom and loneliness are common among the elderly living in their home. Children or grandchildren might live out of town. Driving might have become more of a challenge.
Obviously, with the popularity of streaming services and endless channels on TV, entertainment is plentiful.
Video chats with grandchildren are now a norm for any older adult with a smartphone.
What’s the next step?
According to Berkinshaw it is virtual reality systems that can allow seniors to go on “virtual vacations” or play with a pile of puppies.