Getting older can often mean giving up one’s independence, but new options for senior care are changing that reality. Monitoring systems can now allow senior citizens to remain independent and socially connected to family and friends without the usual concerns about health and safety that often arise from living alone.
- The expense and trauma of moving to long-term care make it unattractive for many seniors who require only a low level of care.
- Independence and social connectedness are important factors affecting the long-term health of seniors, and can affect health outcomes after surgery or other medical treatments.
- Many seniors need help remembering when to take medications, but don’t require the kind of skilled medical facility that nursing homes and assisted living facilities provide.
- There are times when elderly spouses may not be best equipped to monitor one another’s medical needs, but there are many other reasons why the two should continue living together in their own home.
- Although systems such as LifeAlert have for decades given seniors an option for independent living by providing an alert system, they can only help if the patient is conscious and able to call for help when it’s needed.
- Families who live far away may find it difficult to rest easy without regular updates, but constant contact is often impractical.
- Living alone can be dangerous for seniors with medical conditions that could endanger their safety, but electronic monitoring can provide a safety net.
How it works:
- Motion detectors are installed throughout the home, and the data is tracked online.
- Family members are given access to the system, and can see when the medicine cabinet door was opened, for instance, or simply verify that their loved one is up and moving about the house.
- Medication reminders can alert patients when medication times are upcoming, and the online system will notify family members in case of a missed dose.
There are privacy concerns for most families when choosing to use such monitoring systems, but the trade-offs can be huge. The financial and economic costs of moving to long-term care can have lasting negative effects, and families must undertake the decision carefully. There are many cases where electronic monitoring would provide an effective alternative that supports both independence and safety.