Many older adults are staying in their homes during this novel coronavirus pandemic, removed from their children and other loved ones. Their isolation keeps them safe from the novel coronavirus, but how can they be properly cared for? Without being able to visit in person, many caregivers and family members rely on virtual tools to keep an eye on their loved ones. Susan Garland reports for the New York Times on how technology can ensure older adults living alone are doing ok.
Some technology platforms allow older adults to chat with their family members remotely. They also might have motion sensors. And, sometimes they can monitor an older adult’s vital signs. These technologies allow older adults to give the people they love the ability to check in on them and know they are safe. For example, are they sleeping at night?
While in-person medical visits are down substantially, some technology helps health care providers monitor isolated older adults remotely. They can check a person’s weight, the amount of oxygen in their blood and other vital signs.
Some technology is designed to notify loved ones by text if anything is off. For example, a motion detector will let a caregiver know if a loved one has not made it into the kitchen by a designated time in the morning. You can also make sure your loved one gets a reminder to take his or her medications.
Of course, some technology is easier to install and use than others. It’s helpful if the company providing the technology has good customer support.
Virtually all monitoring tools require an internet connection and some rely on GPS tracking to let you know exactly where your loved one is. With some devices, the older adults can press an emergency call button and get help if needed. And, some devices automatically contact a call center if the older adult falls or has a large change in heart rate.
In some cases, Medicare will pay for a health care provider to monitor patients remotely through telehealth services.
Amazon Echo and Google Home technologies offer ways to combat the emotional and psychological toll of social isolation. Because they are voice-activated, older adults can rely on them to call family members and friends, turn lights on, set alarms, and provide information on any subject they choose.
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