We all go through the role reversal of end-of-life care. As children, our parents took care of us, and now it’s time for us to be there for them in their time of need. To help us on this journey, science has provided us with many new and innovative technologies to make it easier to know exactly how and when we can help. Here are some two examples of medical alert systems that act as our own personal virtual nurse.
Statistics show that about 60 percent of people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease will wander. Of those that are found within 12 hours, 93 percent survive but 7 percent don’t. Of those lost for more than 24 hours, only a third survive, and there is merely a 20% survival rate when the amount of time missing exceeds 72 hours. These sobering statistics show the importance of innovative technology to prevent and track wandering seniors. Previously, technology revolved around bracelets that tracked the location of loved ones in case of wandering. However, these bracelets were very easy to take off or lose, and therefore in May 2016 the industry created wandering-detection shoes.
Designed to be appealing and practical to seniors, these shoes have a GPS tracker within them that provide updates to caregivers. It creates a “geo-fence” allowing the shoe’s wearer to walk around their perimeter at will, but once they cross a predetermined line an alert is sent to the caregiver’s computer or mobile phone with a Google maps notification of the shoe’s location. Caregivers can then easily locate their family members or immediately alert the authorities. Other anti-wandering systems include motion sensors, door exit alarms, or floor mat systems which all detect if an Alzheimer’s patient has crossed a threshold and could potentially be wandering outside.
Falls are the number one reason for injury-related hospitalizations among Canadian seniors, with about one in every three seniors falling every year. Although you can do a lot to fall-proof your loved one’s home, sometimes these falls are inevitable. Therefore, there is much research focused around devices that alert the necessary contacts in the event of a fall. Previously, these devices required a landline phone, but now they are going wireless with mobile fall detection and GPS-enabled technology.
These devices use over 190 different parameters that detect the difference between a senior falling and everyday movements. When a senior falls, or presses the help button, the device utilizes GPS cell tower information to notify respondents of his or her location. The mobile device then allows for communication between the dispatcher and the senior to determine appropriate measures. This technology puts caregivers at ease and know that their loved ones can get immediate attention in the event of an emergency.
The world is constantly evolving and these evolutions also affect the world of healthcare. It is important as caregivers that we stay on top of these constantly advancing technologies so that we can provide the best care for our family.
Updated: May 25, 2017