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Summer 2011

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Closing the Gap in Remote Caregiving

Technology Offers New Tools

By Frank Graff

The roughly seven million Americans who are long distance caregivers share a constant worry—what if something happens and I’m not there? The reality is no matter how careful family members and caregivers are in making a home safe, falls and accidents can happen. The good news is that technology can help.

An online survey shows that caregivers are more open to using technology to keep stroke survivors independent in their homes. The survey of 1,000 families by The National Alliance for Caregiving, found 77 percent believed technology would save time, 76 percent thought it would makes their lives easier and 75 percent thought it would make the care recipient feel safer.

Automatic Fall Detection

The biggest developments are in the area of automatic fall detection. New systems are the next generation of the original pendant alarm which required people to push a button if they fell. The new systems use motion sensors and accelerator technology to identify a fall. They then automatically contact a call center for emergency help. The person does not need to push a button. Sensors can be worn around the neck, on belt clips and even on chest straps under clothing. In addition, the systems can be tied into the Internet, allowing families and caregivers to remotely monitor a survivor’s health and physical activity through a secure website.

Several other new technologies are available in the market to help caregivers achieve more confidence and peace of mind when caring for someone from a distance. Visit halomonitoring.com to learn more.

Home Monitoring Systems

This is a variation of the home security system. Sensors placed around the home track daily movements. They can sense whether doors are opened and even if a bed is occupied. The information is then sent to a secure website. Some systems can be programmed to send alerts to caregivers if there are medication issues or if a person does not get out of bed. Survivors can also use medical devices such as a blood pressure cuff which sends the information to a secure website.

GPS Technology

This kind of electronic lifeline is designed to keep track of loved ones when outside of their homes. There are several variations using computers or cell phone applications to keep track of a person’s location.

Medication Reminders

Multiple versions of this technology exist and all of them help survivors who sometimes forget to take medication doses. Some of the systems generate automatic telephone calls or voice recordings, reminding care recipients to take their medicines. New cell phone and computer applications allow caregivers and relatives to remotely monitor medication intake, receive refill reminders and create a detailed medication history.

“Healthcare professionals, caregivers and family members must assess people for their individual needs, modify their living arrangements and if needed, use the right technology to help someone continue to live independently”, says Chris Otto, President and CEO of Halo Monitoring, an automatic fall detection technology provider. 

Frank Graff works in public relations and as a freelance contributor to many publications, writing about healthcare and long-term caregiving issues.

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