This article has been contributed by Maria Villeza of Elderimpact who wishes to share some of the valuable insights she learnt while coping with the challenges of assisting an ageing parent. It's a common scenario, one where modern technology has an import role to play as Marie explains.
Photo by Jeremy Wong on Unsplash
As we age, our parents and older family members are aging, too. Some to the point that they need more care than we may be able to provide. If your parent lives in another city or state, you have another layer of complication to an already difficult situation.
Fortunately, technology is catching up to the the elder care industry. Seniors are able to stay in their homes longer thanks to new digital solutions.
There are new systems being unveiled all the time, creating ways for you to stay in touch with a senior loved one. If you don’t think your mom could handle FaceTime or Skype, there are systems that are simple to use and created specifically for older adults, some even connect through her TV. Now, besides being able to call mom regularly with the help of cell phones, you can video chat with her, which helps you get a better idea of how she’s doing. Is she too thin? Showing signs of injury or distress? Seeing her face to face is a good way to be on the lookout for problems, which you can act on with her doctor or nurse.
If you’ve struggled with your elderly parent because of his or her past substance abuse, now is the time to work on mending fences. It’s a struggle to forgive, for sure, but opening communication is the best start. Perhaps when you visit, you can take mom to a therapist where you can work on the issue together, or just a quiet, simple talk will open some doors. Moving past your troubled relationship with your mom will help you improve relationships with your own spouse and children. Technology can help ease that transition and prevent you from worrying about mom so much.
We’re all familiar with alert systems that the elderly wear around the neck in case of a fall. Newer systems work with GPS so that if mom goes out and has an emergency, she can call for help and emergency services will be able to find her.
Even more thorough are elderly monitoring systems you can install in mom’s home to sense her movement throughout the day. This can help you see that she’s getting up, moving around and able to care for herself. If she’s leaving the house at odd hours, she might be wandering around, which requires intervention.
There are apps for caregivers that allow you to check all her health information on your phone, to connect with her doctor or pharmacist and even give her an alert when an appointment is coming up.
If you’re worried about mom not taking her medication properly, there are electronic pill dispensers that can hold multiple medications and dispense them at the proper time. You and her pharmacist can connect with them digitally to make sure the correct medication is being taken at the correct time, lessening a chance of missing a dose or accidental overdose.
The list of tech innovations for the elderly is long and constantly expanding. There are high-contrast keyboards, easy-to-use tablets, single-button cell phones, cell phones that dial with just a photo, wrist bands that remind you of anything, senior-friendly thermostats and more. There are even feeding robots (still in the beta-testing phase)!
When it comes to taking care of an elderly loved one, communication is key, whether you’re in another state or right next door. Staying on top of mom’s health care and happiness is a tough job, but there’s no one better to do it besides you.
You can contact Marie at: firstname.lastname@example.org