My grandmother was one of the toughest people I knew. With 40 years’ experience as a park ranger under her belt and an accomplished mother of six, she was an independent woman who never needed to rely on anyone. This was one of my favorite things about her—until she grew too old to take care of herself.
You see, my grandmother lived alone in a small house across town from my parents. My father would make special trips up to her house every few days to check on her and make sure she was okay, but even in her old age, she was never amenable to the idea of someone else taking care of her.
One day, my parents called me over with a grim look on their faces. Grandma was in the hospital.
The previous evening (and just hours after my dad had checked on her) she had tripped, fallen, and broken her hip—far away from her landline phone. She spent the night and the following day on the floor in pain before we could help.
This is one of the biggest challenges of caring for elderly family members. There’s a point in time when they lose their ability to safely take care of themselves yet retain enough of their independence to reject the idea of hiring home care agencies or living in a care facility.
In tricky situations like these, technology can be the answer.
At-Home Safety Devices
If your elderly family member is struggling to manage his/her personal care but refuses to accept the idea of assistance, equipping them with home care technology can be a great middle ground. And fortunately, there are plenty of these devices on the market these days. Here are just a few choices that may be appropriate, depending on your family member’s level of independence and personal needs:
Motion sensor lighting: Even us younger folks tend to stumble around in the dark trying to find light switches. Motion lights offer an easy way to guarantee that your loved ones don’t have to struggle to turn lights on and off.
Pill dispensers: Particularly for those struggling with Alzheimer’s or general memory loss, automated pill dispensers are a great way to guarantee that the right medications are dispensed at the right time. They can even send out alerts to let you know if a dosage is missed.
Location tracking devices: We’ve all heard horror stories of people with dementia getting lost outside and losing track of their surroundings. Wearable location tracking devices can help address issues like these.
Health and activity monitor: For more general health monitoring, activity monitors (akin to FitBits) can provide information on sleep patterns, energy expended each day, and more.
Emergency response systems: The ability to call for help is critical in keeping loved ones safe. Wearable emergency response devices can be worn around the neck or hooked to clothing to give seniors an easy way to call for help should an accident occur.
Mobility-friendly rooms: It’s important to give your family members the means to keep themselves safe, even without technology. Consider installing handrails around the house, equipping their homes with walk-in showers with handholds, and generally keeping the floor clear of clutter that they may trip over.
Always Maintain Contact, Regardless of Technology
While several of these tools could have helped my grandmother in the above scenario, even the best home care technology can’t prevent every accident. It’s critical to maintain contact with your elderly loved ones, particularly if they’ve struggled with self-care in the past. While hiring home care agencies may be inevitable at a certain point, the right combination of home care technology and personal contact can guarantee that your members stay safe, secure, and happy as they grow older.