Life is sweet at home

New Technology May Help Your Parents Stay at Home Longer

Technology may help seniors stay at home longer.

Technology may help seniors stay at home longer.

It seems like every week I hear about some new technology that can help our elderly parents remain independent longer in their own homes. This “smart” technology is getting more streamlined, affordable and user-friendly, too. For many it is the essential link that allows an aging parent to live at home as opposed to moving to assisted living or a nursing facility.

About a year ago, I clipped an article in the “Seattle Times” about “Caregivers get helping hand from apps.” I appreciated Alzheimer’s Association (AA)Vice President Beth Kallmyer’s perspective on technologies evolving presence:

We’re in the infancy of what technology can do for caregiving and it’s only going to grow,” said Kallmyer, but she cautioned. “It’s not a good fit for everybody. … With Alzheimer’s you are looking at an older population that might not be comfortable. We always have to remember technology is great – when it works.

Alzheimer’s Association Comfort Zone®

One of the most impressive of the new smart applications is the Alzheimer’s Association (AA) Comfort Zone®. Designed specifically with Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients in mind, it provides location updates. As with any emerging technology it has a few tiny bugs such as sometimes satellite signals get disrupted or network coverage can get messed up. But by in large, according to the association, Comfort Zone location management device works quite well at providing families with on-going information.

What, How Does Comfort Zone work?

The Alzheimer’s Association describes Comfort Zone this way:

Comfort Zone is a Web application that includes a location-based mapping service, or LBS . This term refers to a wide range of services that provide information about a person’s (or object’s) location. If you’ve ever used a GPS device in your car for turn-by-turn driving directions or tracked a package online, you’ve used LBS.

Here’s how LBS works with Comfort Zone:
• A person with Alzheimer’s wears or carries a locator device (such as a pager or wrist-worn device) or mounts one in his or her car.
• As the person travels around, the device receives signals from satellites or nearby cell towers.
• The device communicates with the Comfort Zone Web application.
• Family members access information about the person’s location by using the Internet or calling the monitoring center.
• Families can also decide on the level of monitoring needed.

Learn about Other New Technology

In the March AARP Bulletin, author Sally Abrams discussed a whole slew of “dazzling new technology.” I hope this list gives you a starting point for research that may help your loved one live at home longer.

Sally Abrams’ new tech list included these devices:

Lively: medication monitor
MedMinder: digital pill dispenser
Reminder Rosie: voice-activated talking clock
GrandCare Systems: multipurpose system

Do you use any technology to help your elder? What works for you?