10 Devices for Keeping Seniors Safe at Home
It is perfectly understandable for you to want to live at home during your golden years. Traditionally, doctors, caregivers and family members have met the idea of elders living at home with justifiable trepidation. Their worries included safety concerns such as the senior’s mental health, adequate physical health monitoring, medication punctuality and emergency response time in case an accident should occur. Today, many of these concerns have been addressed or outright eliminated by the ingenious application of new technologies. Devices now exist that can afford seniors peace of mind with health and safety concerns, and also the connectivity to suit their social needs. These 10 tech tools will make at-home living less precarious for you, and some of them might even make your time more interesting.
Wearable Remote Heart Monitors
Immediate changes in your physical health can take doctors and part-time caregivers time to spot, decreasing their ability to respond quickly enough to potential complications. Lightweight, wearable sensors are now available that collect real-time data. The medical information is then transmitted wirelessly to the host company, and made available instantly to doctors and caregivers. Transmittable data can include mobile cardiac telemetry (MCT), cardiac event monitoring (CEM), Ambulatory Electrocardiogram (ECG) and average heart rate for arrhythmias. Preventice, developer of the BodyGuardian Remote Monitoring System, is a leading company in the field who has been working with the Mayo Clinic to make this type of technology accurate, useful and available.
Emergency Alert and Response Systems
The catchphrase “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”, is more than just a pop-culture phenomenon, it hailed the introduction of a high-tech device that would go on to save lives and help millions. Since they made their commercial debut in the 80’s, personal emergency response devices have evolved to provide even better response times, increased accuracy and an almost unlimited range. Traditionally these devices were limited to a home’s landline, but now they utilize wireless technology, which means you can use them at home, out to dinner, shopping or for a walk in the park. When combined with other devices on this list, such as the wearable remote heart monitors, the emergency response team, doctors and caregivers will be more adequately prepared to deal with the situation.
These clever little devices can not only spare you the trouble of constantly bending down to pick up minor messes, they can also clean up unseen messes that could potentially cause an accident. The Roomba by iRobot is one of the more popular cleaning robots, it boasts features like simple one button activation and a tracking feature that makes sure the device covers an entire floor. When the Roomba is low on batteries it automatically returns to the charging station, then picks up where it left off. Automatic timers mean the robots can dutifully clean the floors without you having to do much at all. High-end models can be activated using your smartphone. The Braava is iRobot’s line of mopping robots that have similar features with the inclusion of wet and dry modes.
Sensors are a great and effortless way to make sure that your family members and/or caregivers know you’re allright on a daily basis. Motion sensors are available with a wide variety of ranges and capabilities, and in this regard are commonly placed near the entrances of frequently visited rooms of your home. Sensor data is transmitted wirelessly to a service accessible via the internet. The receiver of the data will know that something is wrong or you can’t get out of bed if you haven’t visited the bathroom or kitchen.
Memory loss is a natural consequence of old age, but if you are forgetting to take medications something needs to be done. One of the best new devices to help with medication reminders is the smartwatch. Lively makes a lightweight waterproof smartwatch that works in conjunction with a sensor attached to the pill dispenser. When daily or even hourly medications are not being taken, a pre-set alarm is set off that can also notify doctors and caregivers remotely. The Lively smart watch also serves as an emergency alert system, can work in conjunction with sensors, is a pedometer, tells the time and comes in a variety of colors.
Stove Top Sensors
Cooking becomes a precarious activity with old age as mobility, memory and focus begin to wane, but devices like stove top and oven sensors eliminate a lot of the potential hazards. The Safe-T-Element cooking system was created to help prevent the many fires that occur due to unattended stove tops. It is an electronically controlled solid cover plate that works with electric coil stovetops and a mechanism installed within the stove to automatically shut off the burner when it gets too hot or stays on for an extended period of time. This device can bring you peace of mind while cooking and the ability to continue your culinary pursuits deep into old age.
Temperature-Activated Flow Reducer
Temperature-activated flow reducers are available at most hardware stores and typically sell for less than $50. The small device works as a screw-on attachment to shower heads or sink faucets that cut off the flow when the water gets too hot. This device can help you avoid serious burns, which can sometimes lead to infections or accidents in the shower.
Doorbell, Telephone and Smoke Signaling Systems
If you are becoming hard of hearing, missing a telephone call or a visitor at the door can be a recurring incident. This can be a serious concern when the phone is ringing with an important call from your doctor with test results, or if somebody is at your door trying to warn you of an emergency or nearby incident. Modern visual notification systems are available from numerous manufacturers and vary in price according to range and aesthetic qualities. More sophisticated systems include notifications for high levels of smoke and carbon monoxide in other areas of your home. Smoke and carbon monoxide can disable seniors quickly and are potentially fatal. Effectively evacuating your home at the first sign of these is extremely important.
If you like to go on walks, out shopping then you’ll want to carry a monitoring device with GPS tracking. If anything should happen, the people you designate with your location information will know exactly where you are and be able to respond accordingly. The ActiveCare Personal Assistance Link is an out of the home monitoring device packed with features like GPS tracking, phone service with emergency speed dial and software that can detect if you have fallen down. The services come with a monthly fee and features an emergency response call center that will have your medical data alongside the necessary contact information.
The latest and most impressive technology to be developed with the purpose of keeping the elderly safe is called Armourgel. Armourgel is featured in clothing developed by researcher Daniel Plant from Imperial College London to be incredibly impact resistant over areas where seniors usually suffer fractures due to accidents. Armourgel combines two difficult to pronounce synthetic materials to create padding that simultaneously stiffens and folds in on itself during impact. Armourgel technology can mean the difference between a short trip to the hospital and a debilitating injury.
The devices on this list have been developed to offer senior citizens increased safety and peace of mind while living at home. Every health concern should be first communicated to your doctor, in addition to questioning their ability to access the health data offered by some of the listed devices. With the combined use of many of the items on this list you will effectively create a safe and productive environment, wherein you doctors, caregivers and family members can be instantly notified of your current condition, and an adequate emergency response is only a button press away.