At-Home Technology Allows Seniors to Remain Independent

May 21, 2010
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Most seniors would agree that one of their biggest concerns about growing older is the eventual loss of their independence. They worry that as they become unable to engage in certain activities of daily living, they will become a burden on loved ones or have to move into an expensive nursing home or assisted living facility. Fortunately, technological advances are offering seniors a variety of options to avoid unnecessary early institutionalization and allow them to stay in their homes if that is where they want to remain. A recent article on MSNBC.com examined these at-home monitoring systems and how they allow seniors to remain independent while providing families peace of mind.
Technology has come a long way since the days of devices which simply alerted someone that the wearer of the device had fallen and couldn’t get up. At-home technology can now monitor senior citizens’ movements and sleep and bathroom patterns. A senior’s vital signs including blood pressure, pulse, weight and blood-oxygen levels can also be monitored at home. The information is sent to a medical provider who tracks it. If problems occur, then the patient can have a teleconference with a nurse or schedule an appointment with a physician. Some equipment can even be programmed to answer the telephone, turn off appliances that are inadvertently left on, and alert an individual to a fire or other emergency.
There are also products available that remind seniors to take their medications. These medication dispensing machines are programmed to hold a certain number of doses of medication per day. The machine will announce to the individual when it’s time to take medications. Usually the individual is required to push some sort of button for the machine to dispense the allotted dosage of medication. If the button is not pushed within a certain amount of time of the reminder, then the device will typically alert a call center which will in turn notify the individual’s caregiver. Additionally, some machines will move any medication not taken into a locked chamber to avoid an overdose. This is extremely helpful to those patients who are on a lot of medications or who have memory problems.
All of these at-home devices are designed to allow older individuals to remain in their homes with more oversight from loved ones or medical specialists. These products can monitor how well seniors are managing the chores of daily living and offer peace of mind to caregivers or family members. For example, through these devices, a son living in California can see how his mother is doing in Virginia. The ability to closely monitor a person’s lifestyle can assists family members in knowing when an older individual can no longer remain at home. Seniors like having technology provide this extra layer of security so they can maintain their independence as well as their privacy. These products tend to be the most successful when they are tied to an agency that can dispatch meals, medical help, or other senior services. On average, these at-home monitoring systems cost around $150 to $250 per month.
If maintaining your independence and privacy for as long as possible is an important goal for you, then at-home monitoring devices may be an option for you. Oast & Hook now has a life care planner on staff who can assist clients with these issues as well as help coordinate care for clients who need assistance in their homes. The attorneys at Oast & Hook can assist clients with their estate, financial, long-term care, insurance, veterans’ benefits, and special needs planning issues.

Ask Allie

O&H: Allie, now that spring is here, many people are traveling and may be away from their pets. Please tell us what people can do to make it easier for their pets during these times.
Allie: Sure! Pets, and cats in particular, don’t like it when their owners leave because it changes the household’s routine and dynamics. Some pets mope when their favorite people are away, even if there are other family members still at home. Some people go so far as to call home when they travel, and leave messages on the answering machine; some pets are comforted by this. You can leave an item of your clothing, such as a recently worn t-shirt, near your pet’s favorite sleeping spot. When you return home, some pets will pretend to be asleep and act as if they didn’t notice you were gone. Here’s a secret – we do notice, we just might not want to admit it. It’s a good idea to spend quality time together with your pet once you are home. Well, it’s time to go find my mom and play. See you next week!


Oast & Hook attorney Brian Boys will speak at the monthly meeting of the Norfolk Retired Employees Association from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Friday, June 25th at the Titustown Recreation Center, 7545 Diven Street, Norfolk, Virginia 23505. For more information on this organization, please visit www.norfolk.gov/retirees.

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