When you reach a certain age, emergencies can happen fast. So, you might want to consider installing a remote monitoring system.
With motion sensors placed throughout the house, family members can see if their loved ones are moving around, if they are sleeping (or not), if they forget to lock the door and, based on a sophisticated algorithm that detects behavioral patterns, whether their activity level or eating habits have changed significantly, for instance.
At $45-$60 a month plus an upfront fee of $100 to $200, the Alarm.com Wellness system is not cheap, but less expensive than hiring a home health aide to check on them or moving them into a retirement community. The average cost of nursing home care exceeds $95,000 a year, while assisted living and in-home care tops $45,000 annually, according to a 2017 Genworth Financial report.
For many, the technology offers not just the tools they need to continue to live at home, but newfound confidence and connectedness with faraway family and friends.
Monitored independence is changing how older generations age in America. People want to be autonomous, irrespective of age.
Voice-assistive technologies like the Amazon Echo, Google Home and HomePod are likely to play a bigger role in helping seniors age at home, especially when paired with apps geared specifically for senior living. AskMarvee, for instance, integrates with Amazon Echo via an online portal to allow seniors to immediately connect with family members for a quick check-in or if something more serious is going on. The Basic app is free, premium versions cost $15 or $20 per month.
LifePod, to be introduced later this year, takes voice-assisted technology a step further. It will allow users to engage with the device, much like Alexa, but will also periodically check in with them independent of a voice prompt, at preprogrammed intervals: Good morning, Nelson. Did you remember to take your medication?
For many people, getting regular medication prompts means the difference between staying healthy and ending up in the hospital. To keep it all straight, you can use Medisafe, an app that reminds you when it is time to take your next dose, whether to take the pills with water or food, and what side effects might be attributable to the medication.
You can also designate a close family member as a ‘MedFriend,’ which meant they got an alert when you don’t take your medication. (The app is free; the Premium version, with additional reminder and Medfriend features, costs $4.99 a month.)
The ability to designate a loved one as a second set of eyes and ears can be comforting rather than intrusive. And yet, there’s a fine line between technology that allows older adults to live independently, and technology that reinforces stereotypical images of aging as a slow decline toward death.
By the end of this month, MedHab, a Texas company best known for its wearable insoles for rehab patients, will begin shipping MyNotifi, a medical alert wristband designed to detect falls and send an alert to a family member or friend. It looks like a watch, and Mom or Dad can invite anybody they want, family or friends, to get those alerts through the MyNotifi Fall Detection app. (The device is available for preorder at $299.)
Similar fall detection technologies in various stages of testing include SafelyYou, which uses wall-mounted cameras and software algorithms to detect falls, and UnaliWear’s Kanega watch, which combines fall detection, voice-assisted emergency aid and medication reminders.
If the goal is independent and connected living, we need solutions that are multifaceted and that connect people with their family, their doctors and their neighbors. If the technology is framed in the context of fun and convenience, like Alexa, then people will start to buy these things.