Tech apps, gadgets make it easier for seniors to age in place

By. Beverly Nelson

When you live far from your senior parents but you still have to manage their care, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Mom doesn’t want to leave her home, but you have your own work and family obligations that need tending, and you can’t just go to her. It might seem impossible, but there are actually plenty of options to ease the situation for both you and your mom.

Thankfully, technology is catching up to the senior care industry. Now you can monitor your mom’s health and safety from afar with just a few apps and gadgets.

Thanks to these advances in technology, you can now:

  • Monitor health care
  • Monitor movement
  • Be alerted to falls
  • Video conference
  • Order groceries
  • Order medical supplies
  • Hire help
  • Get transportation
  • Manage her finances

Those are just a few of the options available now, and more seem to hit the market every day. When considering an app or gadget some things to look for are ease of use, security, customer service and your and your parent’s comfort level.

If you’re providing long-distance care for a parent who has struggled with drug or alcohol abuse in the past, your work is cut out for you. The elderly are at a high risk for substance abuse because they are often prescribed heavy doses of opioids, and they tend to be lonely. There are 2.5 million seniors who have substance abuse problems, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Doctors don’t often recognize the signs because they spend such a short time with each patient. Pill monitoring can be helpful, but a plan to heal past wounds could bolster your efforts. When you’re able to visit, consider having a good talk with your parent about your own pain around her drug or alcohol abuse and try to see how you can mend the rift and help her through recovery even if you’re far away.

Some tech options to consider

To help you keep tabs on mom when you can’t be nearby, here are some excellent options.

  1. Mobile alert systems — These systems, traditionally hooked into your landline, have been around for decades. But now they are hooked up to cellular systems, so mom can leave home and easily call for help. Emergency services can find her even if she’s lost, thanks to built-in GPS. Some even come with fall detectors. If a parent has Alzheimer’s, she may wander off, and these systems can make it easier to find her.
  2. Video calling — If mom isn’t very computer savvy, she likely won’t know how to download Skype or create an account. Now there are new systems that make video calling a lot easier. There are phones with video screens, tablets made just for seniors and even systems that turn a TV into a video phone. If you can talk to mom with video, you can get a better look at how she’s living or if there are health issues you need to address. Plus, she’ll love being able to see the grandchildren.
  3. Health monitoring apps — There are apps that keep track of her pills and when to take them, apps that keep all her medical information handy, which you can access too. There are even apps that monitor vitals, such as blood pressure, pulse, weight and blood sugar. Staying on top of mom’s vitals can alert you to an issue so you can make sure she gets the right medical attention.
  4. Pill dispensers — You can now get digital pill dispenser systems that have alarms when it’s time to take a pill, and they can even dispense them for her, which simplifies taking pills. The systems can even be monitored by a pharmacist, who can then refill prescriptions automatically.

Whatever you decide to use, remember to stay in touch. Visit her as often as you can to remind her how much you love her and want her to be safe and happy. Spend some time talking and taking her places to help alleviate some of the isolation she may feel. Keeping a connection as best you can will help you both bridge the miles and continue to make lasting memories.

Photo by WonHo Sung for Unsplash

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