Seniors & Technology

Technology Offers New Ways to Measure Blood Sugar Levels

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Diabetes is one of the more common illnesses associated with aging. More than 25 percent of all seniors in the U.S. have diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.

While the disease carries many dangerous side effects and symptoms, one of the biggest daily annoyances for diabetics is the need to prick their fingers for blood samples several times a day. While necessary to maintain safe blood sugar levels, the process can be uncomfortable and lead to constant bruises and a continuous dull pain in the fingers. Taking blood from other areas, such as the fleshy part of the palm, is not much better and can lead to less accurate readings.

But two new devices have made the news recently and could revolutionize the way diabetics measure their blood sugar. This may result in more diabetics checking their blood sugar more frequently and gaining better control of their sugars and, as a result, the disease.

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New Study Gauges Effectiveness of GPS Tracking for Seniors

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GPS tracking devices and other technology can help seniors live at home longer, if that’s their desire, while also assisting caregivers in Memory Care communities to protect seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia who may be at risk of roaming. But how effective is it?

A collaborative research project in Canada, run by researchers at Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, and funded by Innovation and Advanced Education within the Government of Alberta, seeks to find out.

The Locator Device Project has provided 10 clients in two Canadian cities with GPS technology from SafeTracks GPS of Red Deer. The technology provides caregivers with real-time location information via text or email, accessed through computers, tablets or smartphones.

The study, in addition to providing real information on the effectiveness of GPS tracking for seniors, also offers training opportunities for occupational therapy student researchers in Calgary.

One caregiver enrolled in the project to keep a better eye on her grandfather-in-law stated on the Alberta Health Services website, “The locator device gives us all peace of mind.”

Challenges of GPS Tracking
While the GPS tracking itself is reliable, caregivers could face challenges in getting seniors to wear new devices or remembering to carry a smartphone with GPS tracking installed as an app. That “peace of mind” could be shattered if a caregiver finds a loved one has left home – and left the GPS device behind. Fortunately, there are ways to encourage a loved one to use the device.

Using GPS Tracking More Effectively
Devices that blend into the wearer’s lifestyle are more likely to be accepted by patients with Alzheimer’s. For instance, fashionable bracelets or pendants might be worn by women with Alzheimer’s. If a man or woman is accustomed to wearing a wristwatch, they might not balk at a GPS locator watch that also tells time.

You might also consider devices that can be hidden inside outerwear or shoes. If an Alzheimer’s patient already carries their smartphone everywhere, a GPS tracking app might be the best solution, requiring nothing to remember and no change in their daily habits.

Finally, GPS devices only used on certain occasions might be helpful. For instance, visitors to parks in the Three Rivers Park District in Minnesota can receive a GPS tracking device free for the duration of their visit. The device sounds an alarm if the Alzheimer’s patient (or a child, for that matter) leaves a specific perimeter. The device also makes it easier to track down a loved one in minutes if they do wander from sight.

Adopting new technology to aid in caregiving is a personal choice. Certainly, tools are available to help caregivers work more effectively. The technology chosen and how it’s introduced can make all the different in success.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

Can Home Automation Systems Help Seniors Age in Place Longer?

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As appealing as today’s senior living communities may be for many people, some seniors just prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. The reasons to remain at home may be practical or sentimental, but for many seniors, a significant support network must be put in place to help this happen.

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Demand for Technology Growing in Senior Living Industry

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From mobile apps for residents to electronic record-keeping, the senior living industry is embracing technology as a means to manage data and improve living and working for seniors and facility personnel. A recent article in Senior Housing News reported that 2013 saw tremendous growth in the adaption of various tech-enabled tools by senior living providers. Probably the biggest impact on residence operations is in adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) to better share information about seniors’ healthcare.

Sharing health information amongst many doctors and health providers using EHRs vastly improves efficiency when communicating about residents’ health concerns. Lapses in communication of vital medical information and inaccuracies in patient’s health records are much more efficiently managed by using readily accessible electronic data. In addition to better, faster and more accurate information, EHR systems can greatly reduce costs to providers and senior living facilities. Adapting to EHRs will be particularly crucial as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is implemented. The ACA places strong emphasis on keeping senior residents from hospitalization.

Keeping Residents and Family Connected
Exciting new technology is being used by several large senior living organizations, including Emeritus Senior Living and Erickson Living. Both have introduced proprietary mobile apps that utilize extensive Wifi-enabled computers and tablets allowing seniors to stay connected to friends and family. While Emeritus’ program is still in its pilot stage, they report 85 percent of the residents in their communities have begun to use the app. Access to information internally, such as the dining menu and staff information keeps resident’s informed and current.

In addition to the lifestyle and social benefits of a mobile app for residents, technology is being implemented to monitor residents’ health and safety. Remote sensor systems allow staff to track daily activity patterns and will also allow medical personnel to monitor waking patterns, medication management, and bathroom habits to alert them to health issues as they arise.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.

New Technology Detects Changes in Seniors’ Behavior for Better Caregiving

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Technology is evolving to make caregiving easier for the sandwich generation with aging parents. From hearing aids to walkers, all the way up to personal GPS systems that let caregivers detect when an aging parent or Alzheimer sufferer has roamed, technology permits seniors who need a little assistance or monitoring to age-in-place longer and remain independent in the face of diminishing abilities.

According to a recent study published by the American Journal of Public Health and reported here at SeniorLiving.net, 9 million seniors on Medicare have successfully adapted to a disability with the help of assistive technology. This number could increase as technology evolves and, even more importantly, as awareness of available technologies grows.

A new technology scheduled to ship this fall could help even more seniors age-in-place.

Technology Detects Changes in Behavior
CarePredict Tempo is a new wearable sensor that tracks activity and locations of a senior within the home. In much the same way a “smart” thermostat learns how you prefer to program room temperature settings and then mimics that behavior even if you’re not programming it, the CareDirect sensor first learns the senior’s “typical” patterns of behavior.

Then, if there is a deviation from this pattern, the program alerts loved ones or caregivers. This technology is different from current GPS technology, because it monitors the senior rather than the environment and does more than just detect a location or a change in location beyond specified parameters.

Like many personal GPS systems, the sensor is unobtrusive and can be worn on a men’s watch band or a ladies’ bracelet. Four additional room sensors and a communications hub that connects to the cloud complete the kit.

Real-Life Uses
Sattish Movva, founder and CEO of CarePredict and a member of the sandwich generation himself, with three young children (including a set of twins) and two aging parents he cares for, references a recent incident he experienced with his father. “I noted my dad had started shuffling instead of walking because of water retention in his feet, which, if left untreated, would have resulted in an ER visit.”

Movva was lucky that he noticed the change in behavior during a routine visit but, with CarePredict Tempo, he would have been alerted even sooner in order to get his dad the treatment he needed.

“As part of the sandwich generation we try to find a balance between competing demands on our time: work, taking care of parents and taking care of children among others,” Movva says. He points out that time spent on one activity, say, taking a parent to the hospital in an emergency situation, must come from some place else, perhaps time spent working or at a sports competition for a child. In a sense, technology like CareDirect Tempo helps caregivers be in two places at once, or at least be able to monitor an aging parent while you’re at work or at the park with your children.

Technology, of course, should not replace personal visits and one-on-one care, but can make seniors feel more secure and comfortable when they are left alone, and can provide them with greater independence. Both seniors and their caregivers can enjoy a peace-of-mind they may not achieve without monitoring through technology.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.