Technology is advancing at a very fast pace nowadays. Every day, a new app or tool is developed to make a certain facet of our daily lives either easier or more enjoyable. This means tech is particularly important for caregivers whose major aim is to make life easier and more enjoyable for seniors.
Here are the top three reasons why tech devices can be very useful to both caregivers and seniors:
1. Portable and remote care
They are small and easy to carry around, fitting in just about any pocket so both caregivers and seniors don’t have to endure the burden of carrying a heavy load in order to enjoy the benefits of technology.
Furthermore, these modern tech devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops are able to dependably work across large geographical distances so caregivers no longer have to be physically present with their senior client or loved one to give them all the care they need.
2. Much less need to memorize
Memory is one of the first victims of ageing and yet seniors often need several reminders a day for vital things like medication and meals. Tech devices such as smartphones have many simple features that can be used create and consistently adhere to the necessary schedules and alerts.
This allows seniors to depend less on their sometimes shaky memory for important things in their daily lives. Their caregivers also have less to memorize and this allows them to be more mentally present in their duties.
3. Easier to keep track of seniors
Seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have been found to be prone to wandering, especially at night. Today, there are several surveillance tech devices that caretakers can use to keep an eye on seniors in their homes or aged care facilities to make sure they don’t wander off. These include GPS trackers, motion sensors and CCTV cameras that can be installed at strategic points in the homes.
How To Choose Your Caregiving Tech Tools
Just like shopping for anything else, shopping for technological tools for seniors calls for some research before committing to any purchase. There are two basic questions to consider in this basic research:
- How can this tech tool help me?
- How is this tech tool better than others on the market?
When selecting which caregiving tech tools to buy, take into consideration these three factors:
1. Ease of use
Seniors need to find a tech tool easy and comfortable to use for them to adopt it in the long-term, otherwise they will give up sooner or later and tuck it away in their shelves or drawers.
Pay attention to the size of the keys on the smartphone, tablet or laptop you’re looking to buy to make sure they don’t require too much finger dexterity – consider a separate keyboard if necessary. Make sure you customize the settings such that the size of the font can be read by the senior user the device is meant for.
2. User security
Following the big hacks that have made big news these past few years, cybersecurity is – and should be – a big concern for individuals, businesses and governments world over.
Whatever tech tool you choose should be able to consistently protect, safeguard and secure the privacy of both caretakers’ and seniors’ sensitive data such home addresses, personal health information and personal financial reports. Ask about what specific measures the tech manufacturer has in place and read previous users’ reviews.
3. Customer service
No matter how easy a tech tool is to use, one will at one point need customer service support. It’s important to make sure you choose a brand that won’t make you jump through hoops to get an answer when you need one.
Beyond their own “live” customer service personnel and chatbots, great technology companies typically nurture, encourage and develop vibrant online user communities such forums and chat rooms where users can share their first-hand experiences and genuine feedback about the tech tool they have bought from the company, and even guide other users on how best to use the product.
What Tech Tools Can Help Caregivers and Seniors?
A smartphone can be really useful for aged care. With FaceTime or Skype, caregivers and seniors can use FaceTime or Skype to chat face-to-face, allowing for more personalized contact. This enables caregivers to make a better assessment of how the senior is doing.
Smartphones also enable seniors to access and enjoy modern forms of entertainment such as audiobooks, Netflix, YouTube, and podcasts. Seniors can also use smartphones to make memories by taking photos they can easily revisit. Additionally, seniors can find and catch up with old friends on social media apps, and such social contact is very vital.
Once the caregiver and senior both have smartphones, there are many apps they can explore to make aged care easier. Caregivers can use apps like Google Calendar, CareZone and CaringBridge to help seniors stay on track with their medication and doctor’s appointments. First Aid by American Red Cross can also help caregivers figure out exactly what to do in case of an emergency with the senior.
Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft are a great way for seniors who can/should no longer drive to still enjoy easy mobility. Personal shopping apps like Instacart and Amazon Fresh allow seniors to have groceries and supplies delivered right at their doorstep. Card games like Solitaire are great for brain health and apps like Headspace offer both caregivers and seniors alike the benefits of meditation.
Home alert systems
Seniors usually prefer to continue living in their own homes. Unfortunately their homes are not always safe and secure. This is why it’s important to put in place robust security measures to protect them. Home alert systems can be connected to a home telephone. Seniors can wear a “panic button” on their necklace or bracelet that calls someone for help when they press it.
CCTV cameras can also be installed, with adequate privacy considerations of course. Home alert system monitoring staff can call the senior to check-in if they detect anything unusual and, if necessary, also reach out to family members.
Whereas they are unable to replace the uniquely personal human touch, robots are slowly but surely entering the aged care industry and proving to be very valuable additions to many care facilities. Robots of various shapes, functions and designs help both caretakers and seniors in the following ways:
- Helping seniors stick to their necessary daily schedules by providing reminders to seniors
- Monitoring seniors’ health conditions by tracking and providing regular reports and alerts
- Performing physically cumbersome household tasks like vacuuming, dusting and washing
- Aiding the movement of seniors so that they don’t have to be confined to certain spaces
- Preventing loneliness (which kills many seniors) by providing a certain level of social contact
This is perfect for seniors who are not comfortable with carrying a smartphone around as well caregivers who have a lot of responsibilities to juggle. Instead of having to go through the labour of typing lists and setting alarms, modern tech devices such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home allow you to simply talk and have the work done for you.
This is particularly useful for visually impaired seniors who may sometimes have trouble looking at smartphone/tablet screens and those with finger dexterity issues.
Both seniors and caregivers have a lot to gain from adopting wearable devices like the Apple Watch or Fitbit. Tracking your heart rate, physical activity, and sleep can be a very motivational habit to embrace and develop because it drives you to maintain excellence in the areas you’re doing well in and to steadily improve the ones you need to pull your socks up in.
This important for seniors as they need to handle any arising health issues quickly due to their vulnerable immunity and for caretakers too because one needs to stay in great health to be able to consistently provide seniors the care they need.
Gerald Ainomugisha is a Content Solutions Provider (CSP). Gerald offers freelance writing services to clients the world over especially in the niches of HR management, business tech and digital marketing.