Thanks to better nutrition and medical advances, many seniors are living longer and more independently.
As they age, seniors prefer to stay in their own home and familiar community.
With aging, homes need to be modified to suit their needs. Steps may need to be replaced with ramps, non-slip tiles and safety rails installed in bathrooms, etc.
Timers with buzzers should be installed in the kitchen to alert when the water is boiled or the gas needs to be turned off.
A home CCTV or video surveillance system is quite affordable to install now. With internet connection, working children can check in on their parents’ wellbeing intermittently while at work. Doing so, they can see if a parent has fallen down or become unconscious, and quickly call for help.
The American National Council on Aging published a report in 2015 that stated reasons why the elderly want to “age in place”, some of which are as follows:
What does “age in place” mean?
The CDC defines “age in place” as ”the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” (CDC – Centers of Disease Control and Prevention)
Patricia’s husband, Jonathan, suffered a stroke. They made a joint decision to continue aging in place. They did not want to downsize to a nursing facility in town.
Aging in place allows them to maintain their current neighbourhood network. It allows them the freedom to keep their pets, and flexibility to have friends and family over. Most importantly, it gives them an independent lifestyle.
Aging in place is not always an option though. It depends on factors such as the individual’s mental and physical condition. If an individual needs help to take care of himself, a nursing facility is obviously the practical choice.
How can technology help with aging in place?
Technology makes aging in place much safer now. There are ways to make homes fairly safe, especially if the elderly have mobility issues after a fall.
Ramps to be installed and doors must take into consideration wheelchair accessibility. Stair lifts to make it easier going upstairs and down instead of using the stairs.
Florida based geriatrician Dr Harris McIlwain, says, “Some [of my patients] add a first-floor bedroom and bath, while others convert the downstairs kids’ playroom or garage into a bedroom.”
“I remind them to add safety features, such as grab bars and a shower chair, to prevent falls, which become more frequent with aging and can lead to loss of independence.”
Iitems like blood pressure monitors, heart rate monitors and thermometers and a first-aid kit are essential at home to deal with minor injuries.
There is a smartphone medical app called HomeFit AR. It will scan a room and determine changes to be made to ensure accessibility and safety for the elderly.
Pre-programmed voice enabled devices remind the elderly to take their meals and medicine or do their physio exercises timely.
About 50 percent of the elderly don’t take medicine on time. Many have multiple health issues. They get confused as to when they should take which medicine. Poor vision makes it difficult to read the prescriptions and distinguish different medications.
Many pharmacies dispense various medications pre-packed into individual daily sections in a pack for weekly or monthly dosages.
Some hospitals offer a medical alert device like a watch, for seniors aging at home. The watch is connected to a smartphone. In an emergency, the watch can contact family members via the smartphone. The watch can even alert if a senior has fallen down, as it has built-in motion sensors.
Another wearable watch that uses AI (artificial intelligence) is CarePredict@Home. It alerts family members if the user has fallen down, missed a meal or medication, or anything else that is out of routine.
In conclusion: it is possible for seniors and the elderly to age at home safely nowadays. It takes some good planning, modern AI equipment, apps, and necessary modifications to their homes which allow for easy and safe accessibility.
1st October 2020 22:30
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