Read below for a fantastic blog post from Julie Menack, contributing author to Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Third Edition.
"Technology can be used to help seniors and those with special needs to live safely in their home. It has the potential to help our clients to maximize their independence, support professional and family caregivers’ needs, improve the quality of care and quality of life, reduce and limit the cost of health care, and increase efficiency of care. Chapter 11 of the Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Third Edition, focuses on how professionals can utilize Technologies that Support Aging in Place in their practice.
For example, telehealth devices or residential monitoring systems can be used to monitor when the older person’s pattern differs from the routine, and send an alarm to a central monitoring location if either health conditions or movement patterns differ from a previously observed or programmed norm. In this way, a condition that is starting to emerge may be identified before it becomes serious enough to warrant an emergency room visit.
The technologies that can support the care of aging individuals can be divided into the following categories:
- Health and wellness
- Safety and security
- Communication and engagement
- Learning and contribution
The professional in the field of aging who is willing to try new innovations is in a position to recommend affordable technologies that will enable folks to live in the least restrictive environment for as long as possible. The market for technology for aging in place is driven by the combination of an aging population with longer life expectancy, a shortage of physicians and nurses, a mobile population in which families are no longer living in close proximity to one another, and the technological improvements that have occurred in recent years.
Gerontechnology is a term that was coined to describe the field that encompasses the design of technology and environment for independent living and social participation of older persons in good health, comfort and safety. This includes innovative technology that serves an enabling role by:
- Maintaining independence and equality including considerations of residence, mobility, safety, security, communication, activities, and quality of life;
- Supporting well-being and health;
- Realizing individual and collective/social ambitions and needs;
- Keeping an individual embedded in their changing socio-cultural environment;
- Enhancing dignity; and
- Supporting caregivers
Technology can benefit all those involved in a person's care, including the individual, the care provider, and the person or organization that pays for the care. The benefit to the individual is prolonged independence created by a greater sense of security, improved health and quality of life, and opportunity for social interaction. The benefit to the care provider is greater peace of mind due to increased safety, more contact due to increased communication, and the opportunity for intervention before a crisis occurs. It is presumed that the benefit to the payer, whether it is the client, insurance company, or family, is that overall cost of care is reduced.
Professionals such as Care and Case Managers and Home Care and Home Health organizations who support individuals to maintain their independence at home are uniquely qualified to identify, recommend, implement and prioritize strategies including technology-based solutions. This is because we as professionals identify deficits in the client’s care and we are also expected to know about available products and services. As with all of our recommendations, no one solution fits all – there are many creative ways to meet a client’s needs. My new chapter, Technologies that Support Aging in Place (Chapter 11) in the Handbook of Geriatric Care Management, Third Edition, provides many of these creative solutions.
Read about the Third Edition of Handbook of Geriatric Care Management and more on author Cathy Cress's website and blog.