From the Blog

The Power of Caregiving in the Palm of Your Hand

Posted on September 05, 2017

Here's how technology is helping address three common caregiver concerns.

As you get older, where do you want to live? If you are like most Americans, you want to stay in your home. Known as “aging in place,” this is the preferred option for nearly 9 in 10 adults over age 65, according to an AARP survey on “Livable Communities.”

Of course, growing older in your own home is a nice concept, but, at some point, we’ll all likely need help. Devices that make tasks easier or that can be controlled from afar can help. Here are three common concerns for caregivers, and how technology is helping address them.

“Are You Okay?”

With the addition of a home security system like ADT Pulse, it's possible to do many of the things you would do with an in-person visit — from ensuring the doors are locked and the garage is closed, to scanning the yard to be sure no one is there who shouldn’t be – via an iPhone app. While checking on your loved one in-person and through phone calls is still valuable, the technology can allow for more peace of mind for times when you can’t stop by or don’t want to disturb him or her.

Similarly, Samsung’s SmartThings ecosystem pairs with the largest network of smart home devices to – among other features – allow for the next generation of “alert” devices.

For example, rather than remembering to wear a lanyard that summons help (à la the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” ads), untethered seniors can go about their business, knowing a motion sensor that hasn’t detected movement over a certain period of time will alert their caregiver that they may need immediate assistance.

“Are You Comfortable?”

Beyond safety, smart home technology can be used to help ensure a loved one's comfort. For instance, thermostats can be programed and controlled to make sure the air conditioning and heat are being kept at preferred levels.

Smart technology can also prevent an elderly parent from stumbling around in the dark, which not only makes things easier, but helps prevent one of the most common causes of hospitalizations among older adults: falls.

Simple motion sensors can turn on lights when someone enters a room or a hallway, and can work with most smart ecosystems, including Samsung’s SmartThings.

Smart lightbulbs can help, too, such as IKEA’s line of Smart Lighting. The TRÅDFRI LED model bulb connects with an app of the same name, or one can opt for programmable OSRAM LED lights for equally convenient control via an app.

“How Else Can I Help?”

Many may know the Amazon Echo as the device where you can ask Alexa to play your favorite music or tell you the weather report, but new services are being added.

For example, a recently introduced upgrade allows a user to ask Alexa to reorder favorite meals via GrubHub to have delivered. In certain cities, Alexa can also reorder directly from restaurants with an Amazon partnership.

In addition, the most recent device in the Echo line – the Show – has a video component, which allows for video calls. Sure, FaceTime or Skype can serve the same purpose, but being able to simply say, "Alexa, call..." can be a great option for less tech-savvy users.