Both the number and proportion of elderly citizens will grow in the coming decades. By 2030, the number of Americans age 65 and older will double to about 71 million. In the U.S., we are also living longer. Caring for the growing number of aging people presents a challenge on many fronts. Nursing home care is expensive as well as considered a last resort for many. There is a stage where the person does not yet need the care of a nursing home but cannot fully take care of themselves either. During this in-between stage the person usually gets support from family members or in-home senior care agencies.
According to an article on the website hl7standards.com There will be fewer senior care givers in the future but the need will increase. Below is an excerpt from their article:
“As the population ages, the number of available caregivers in a senior’s informal network is expected to decline from eight people to four by 2030. Divorce and nontraditional family structures will also blur lines of responsibility.
At the same time, healthcare cost cuts have shifted responsibility from the hospital and longterm care to the home. So, while more seniors are at home, their family members are spread out geographically which makes coordinating care challenging.”
This issue is also getting a boost from technology. Tiny sensors are placed unobtrusively so an elderly person can be remotely monitored by a family member or health care worker. Another article describes how tiny sensors hover unobtrusively over the toilet, shower and doorways to detect the persons movements inside their home. If the person falls inside their home but are not close to a phone or if they are knocked unconscious, someone will know and can send help immediately. This monitoring provides a sense of security. People want to stay at home as long as possible but their family members grow concerned when they start wandering out of the house at night.
Smart-home technology and wearable devices are increasingly being used to monitor family members with Alzheimer's and dementia. A CNN article describes sensors that go on key chains and detect when the occupant leaves their front door. A motion sensor in the kitchen helps monitor eating habits. Sensors in the bedroom register when they wake up in the morning and notes any sleep issues. There is even a flood sensor for the laundry room and sensors in the walls that give notice of leaks. The sensors relay information back to a small wireless hub that can be monitored by family members.
The sensors can also help in-home caregivers provide the right level of care and support. If the caregiver see’s there has been no activity in the kitchen the night before, they know the patient did not eat dinner. People with Dementia and the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease forget to eat, to bathe, take their medications or perform other daily tasks. Instead of asking the patient, who may not remember, the caregiver can simply see for themselves and adjust the level of care appropriately.
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