Sensor Trackers A New Assistance for Seniors

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Assistance for Seniors and Home Care

assistance for elderlyFrom assisting seniors using robots to now using sensors to monitor loved ones movements there are numerous methods out there to keep your love one safe. The in home care sensors creatively will identify illness and injury. Although it does not replace human interaction it is a great assistance for seniors  in home care.  This is a growing trend which is to use technology as assistance for seniors. The main objective is to bring healthcare in home where seniors are most comfortable.


Article about Sensors ,Assistance for Seniors and In Home Care

SHREWSBURY, Mass. — Violette Roberts’ home is full of sensors. There is a device under her pillow to record how many hours she sleeps. Wires stick out from her toilet tank, transmitting how many times she flushes. Little white rectangles, about the size of matchboxes, count how many times she opens her fridge and her medicine cabinet. And there are motion detectors in every last room.

Together, these gizmos know the daily patterns of Roberts’ life inside out. And when they pick up on a change — be it a sudden lack of movement, or a gradual increase in the senior citizen’s trips to the bathroom — a nurse gets an email alert. The goal: to pick up on early warning signs of illness even before Roberts notices them herself.

If that sounds like sci-fi, think again. Devices and apps are popping up to monitor every aspect of your health and in home care: pill bottles that know whether you’ve opened them, socks that track the rhythm of your gait, and little skin-like stickers that keep constant tabs on the state of your blood.

And with nearly 13 million seniors living alone in the United States, companies are pouring millions of dollars into the idea that this kind of technological surveillance will allow assistance for seniors to maintain their independence for longer for in home care, while also reducing health care costs.

“This is all part of this mega-trend of health care moving into the in home care services,” said Geoffrey Nudd, chief executive of ClearCare, a San Francisco-based maker of software for in home care agencies.

Violette Roberts

Kayana Szymczak for STAT

An in home care sensor detects every time Violette Roberts opens her medicine cabinet.

But this patient tracking-at-a-distance comes at the expense of privacy, and experts worry about the ripple effects for elderly care and in home care services.

“One danger of all this assistance for seniors and monitoring is that we actually turn normal life into a disease,” said Dr. Ken Covinsky, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco. The elderly have good nights and bad nights, just like younger folks, he said, and those fluctuations don’t necessarily predict serious health problems.

Steven Albert, an expert on aging at the University of Pittsburgh, noted that some older adults feel more independent when they rely on technology instead of nurses or in home care aides. But, like many researchers, Albert worries about replacing human caregivers with machines.

That worry is not completely far-fetched. Roberts had originally asked if a nurse could call her every day to check in. “I didn’t want to be in a coma for three days without somebody knowing about it,” she said.

A deliveryman brought her meals-on-wheels, and she called her nieces every day, but she was still concerned. She’d had heart trouble and kidney stones. And, a few years ago, after a fall, she’d been unable to get up, and had to drag herself across the floor for hours until she reached the phone.

But the nurses at Fallon, the company that manages Roberts’ health care, are typically each in charge of around 80 patients. They didn’t have time to call her once a day. Instead, they offered her a spot in a pilot project to test out monitoring systems from a company called Healthsense which provides in home care assistance for seniors.

According to Bryan Fuhr, president of the senior living division of Healthsense, the company’s system is currently in place in assisted living communities across the country. “We’re monitoring over 20,000 lives  for in home care on a daily basis now,” he said.

They now want to expand into private homes as assistance for seniors— which is where the pilot project comes in. Although study subjects like Roberts aren’t paying for the systems themselves, it usually costs around $150 per month, Fuhr said.

Violette Roberts

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Source: To keep seniors living independently, sensors track their home habits