When seniors are living alone at home, (often because they’ve chosen to age in place), monitoring their day-to-day routine is an important precaution to take. As seniors age, their risk for potentially life-threatening accidents increases. If there’s not always an able-bodied adult at home to provide help and care as needed, this risk factor is monumentally higher.
Technology to monitor the elderly at home has advanced significantly in recent years. These developments are welcome and necessary, given the rapid aging of our population. Remote monitoring may enable seniors to live safely alone, or with minimal care, for longer into their elderly years. It may also cut down on hospital admissions and emergency care.
Here, we’ll provide an overview for at-home monitoring for the elderly, along with the significant benefits that it can offer to seniors, doctors, and family members.
Common Concerns for the Elderly
There are numerous reasons why adult children feel the need to monitor their elderly parents. They want to make sure that their elderly family member is properly taking medications, eating at regular intervals, and returning home safely after excursions.
The following behaviors can be tracked and reviewed with at-home monitoring:
- Eating habits
- Medication administration
- Sleep habits
- Body temperature
- Entering and leaving the house
- Bathroom use
Another key function of at-home monitoring devices is an emergency response. Remote monitoring systems generally have some form of emergency response. Oftentimes, the caregiver will be notified first in this scenario, followed by emergency services if there is no response.
Before remote monitoring systems, loved ones would have to call their parents multiple times per day to ensure that they were staying healthy. Now, technology enables adult children and other family members to have peace of mind with an elderly loved one alone in their own home. Remote monitoring also gives seniors peace of mind in their own homes, with the assurance that someone will be alerted in the case of an emergency.
Remote Monitoring Technology
Remote monitoring for the elderly, (also called telemonitoring), marks significant advancements in efforts to help seniors age at home. The concept is defined as the use of various technologies to monitor patient behavior from a distance. This technology may be used by both the loved ones of elderly patients and the doctors who treat them.
At-home monitoring technology for the elderly often consists of sensors placed around the house that detect habits and behaviors. For example, a sensor may be positioned on the refrigerator door to track eating habits; one may be positioned by the bathroom to detect potential slips or falls, and one may be placed by the senior’s medications to ensure that the proper dose is taken at the proper time. Sensors may detect motion or sound, record sound or video, and track object contact, among other functions.
In-home sensors are often combined with wearable sensors that can alert emergency services for immediate care. For example, if the senior falls alone in their home, a wearable sensor can be used to notify the appropriate medical care provider so that an ambulance is sent if needed. Wearable sensors need to be comfortable, secure, and easy to wear so that they’re practical for seniors to use every single day.
Benefits of At-Home Monitoring
Remote monitoring offsets the risk of aging in place so that seniors can confidently live in their homes for longer. As people age, the need to have other people on call in the case of an emergency is crucial; remote devices make this process more convenient and efficient for everyone involved. Plus, remote monitoring may be a cost-effective solution when compared to residential care or hiring a live-in caregiver.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, telemonitoring leads to fewer emergency room visits and hospital admissions, as well as a decreased length of stay in the hospital for seniors. Telehealth strategies may be especially effective for seniors with chronic conditions including hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, and COPD. In patients with these conditions, telehealth and telemonitoring solutions largely lead to a fewer emergency medical visit, as well as positive effects on disease control. This is especially true when seniors are transitioning back into their homes following hospital care.
Impact of Telemonitoring on Caregivers
The overwhelming desire among seniors to live at home for as long as possible can lead to increased caregiver responsibilities. Especially when the caregiver role falls to a family member, this can cause heightened stress levels. Telemonitoring can make the task of overseeing the health of a senior far more efficient, reducing stress and effort on the part of a caregiver.
At-home senior monitoring systems that enable direct communication with clinicians can significantly reduce caregiver strain. By making medical professionals easily accessible, concerning habits and signs of declining health can be addressed immediately. This also facilitates the transfer of information between the doctor and the caregiver, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. The caregiver can more easily stay up-to-date and informed on the ideal treatment strategy for the senior.
Remote monitoring gives loved ones of the elderly confidence and lessened stress regarding their wellbeing. With the ability to monitor daily habits, as well as knowing that alerts will be sent in the case of concerning behavior, family and friends can reduce the amount of time spent checking in on the elderly. Plus, remote monitoring makes physicians easily accessible, improving care and disease management for elderly patients living at home.
At-home monitoring for seniors may likely be a crucial component to the adoption of aging in place. It simplifies the involvement of family members and caregivers in the life of an aging adult while maintaining quality of care.
More from SeniorsMatter.com:
Abrahms, Sally. “New Technology Could Allow You or Your Parents to Age at Home.” AARP, AARP, 1 Mar. 2014, www.aarp.org/home-family/personal-technology/info-2014/is-this-the-end-of-the-nursing-home.html.
Gruessner, Vera. “How Remote Home Monitoring Improves Engagement, Elderly Care.” MHealthIntelligence, MHealthIntelligence, 3 Nov. 2015, mhealthintelligence.com/news/how-remote-home-monitoring-improves-engagement-elderly-care.
Guy Paré, Mirou Jaana, Claude Sicotte, Systematic Review of Home Telemonitoring for Chronic Diseases: The Evidence Base, Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Volume 14, Issue 3, May 2007, Pages 269–277, https://doi.org/10.1197/jamia.M2270
Orozco-Beltran, Domingo et al. “Telemedicine in Primary Care for Patients With Chronic Conditions: The ValCrònic Quasi-Experimental Study.” Journal of medical Internet research vol. 19,12 e400. 15 Dec. 2017, doi:10.2196/jmir.7677
Quinn, Winifred V, et al. “Using Telehealth to Improve Home-Based Care for Older Adults and Family Caregivers.” AARP, AARP, May 2018, www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2018/05/using-telehealth-to-improve-home-based-care-for-older-adults-and-family-caregivers.pdf.
Sauer, Alissa. “Caregivers Find Comfort in Senior Monitoring Sensors.” A Place for Mom, A Place for Mom, 16 Apr. 2018, www.aplaceformom.com/blog/caregivers-find-comfort-in-senior-monitoring-sensors/.
Uddin, Md Zia et al. “Ambient Sensors for Elderly Care and Independent Living: A Survey.” Sensors (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 18,7 2027. 25 Jun. 2018, doi:10.3390/s18072027