We are lucky to be alive in a time when people are living longer and enjoying more healthy, active, and productive lives. Today’s families have the chance to enjoy their senior members for many years with most hoping to age in place (staying in their homes for as long as possible). With this comes greater responsibility to stay engaged and support senior parents in an independent lifestyle.
Connecting with Seniors at Home
Providing a sense of community to combat isolation may be one of the most important things you can do for your senior parent, especially if they have lost a spouse or loved one. Today’s connected smart home devices not only keep you in touch, but allow you to monitor things like medications, nutrition, and security.
Voice-Controlled Personal Assistants
Whether you’re a fan of Alexa, Google Home, or Facebook Portal, voice-controlled personal assistants are everywhere. Take Amazon’s top-of-the line Echo Show with a 10.1” HD screen (retailing for $229.99)—this device can stream music, books, and movies. As a kitchen companion, it can set timers and add items to a shopping list, plus show recipe videos with step-by-step instructions for thousands of meal options. In addition to Skype and Echo calling features, you can also set medication reminders, as well as set up security and smart plug functionality.
Personal Assistant Wearables
From Apple to Fitbit, smart watches can be deployed as voice-activated personal assistants that allow you to monitor activity and track locations as well as monitor blood pressure readings. Not to be outdone, Amazon’s Day 1 Editions beta program has introduced Echo Frames that bring Alexa capabilities to eyewear.
Keeping an Eye on Nutrition
It’s easier than ever to ensure your parent is getting the nutrition they need. New Wi-fi-connected smart refrigerators let you view inside to see what’s available and send or receive notes and reminders to the door screen, such as “Don’t forget to feed the dog.” And with today’s meal kits and grocery delivery services, nutrition tracking and support has never been easier.
Home Safety and Security
It’s never been simpler to ensure home security with companies like Ring that allow you to remotely monitor your parent’s house. For seniors experiencing cognitive impairment, there are shoe inserts available that use GPS technology to track a person’s whereabouts and devices that monitor the stove and oven through sensors that notify you if it’s been left on or unattended.
Connecting When They Travel
With many retired seniors traveling for recreation, it’s important for your peace of mind to keep tabs on where they are at any given time. With an app like Life360, you can create a family circle that syncs everyone’s whereabouts and allows you to track your senior parents progress, while giving them a feeling of independence.
Apps for All Things Senior
There are so many apps available today and the senior care category is growing daily. Check out these apps that may help your aging parent live more independently:
- GoGoGrandparent—A ride-sharing app like Uber or Lyft that caters especially to seniors
- Luminosity and Happy Neuron—Brain games to improve memory and focus
- Silver Singles and OurTime—For dating and companionship
- MedWatcher—Allows you to stay up to date on news and notifications for medications your parent may be taking
There’s Even More in Store for the Future
Some of the things available in the future will include:
- Hip Safe – a wearable airbag that inflates if it senses a fall
- Hearing aids with integrated smart assistants and language translators
- Implantable lenses able to monitor biomarkers such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as blood sugar for diabetics
And Let’s Not Forget Self Care
Unfortunately, it’s all too common. The caregiver neglects to practice self-care and quickly becomes burned out. By not taking care of ourselves, we are unable to properly care for anyone else. If you find yourself in the position of caring for an elderly parent, keep these solutions in mind:
- Headspace—Meditation and relaxation
- Agingcare.com—Support, advice and encouragement for the caretaker
- Breathing Zone—Breathing exercises
- AARP.com—Caregiving resource center providing information, tools, and help
Caring for a senior parent can be challenging… or one of the most rewarding experiences in our lives. Through technology, there are effective ways to support your senior parent and allow them to live their days with the most independence as possible.
By Kathryn Morstad