9 Need-to-Know Technologies for Caregivers

Can you say the Jetsons? Increasingly, family caregivers are getting a helping hand through high-tech products and services. Bone up on these trends:

GPS safety technology provides the location of the wearer: devices can be used on the wrist, as a clip-on, or on a pendant. Some cars and smart phones have them – enabling you to speak or touch your desired destination – and see or hear turn-by-turn instructions.

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With some devices, the caregiver sets the parameters of where the recipient can be – sometimes referred to as ‘geo-fencing‘. If the person goes outside those areas, the caregiver is alerted via phone, text, or email. At any time, the caregiver can log on to a website and track the location of the elder.

Personal emergency response systems, known as PERS, also contain GPS technology. It’s the Medic Alert model-if in trouble, the wearer can press a button and be connected with a call center that can dispatch help and notify caregivers. Many PERS devices only work at home, but a few allow the wearer to get help wherever they are-on the golf course, in the car, around the block.

Other safety technology includes wireless sensors around the house (in the bathroom, on the bed, door, or refrigerator, for example) that that let caregivers know if there is activity out of the ordinary i.e. not leaving the bathroom. A fall, perhaps?

Staying connected via Internet: These simple systems offer video chats with the adult children and grandkids, photo sharing, Skype, email, audio messages, online networking with others in similar situations (dementia, specific cancer caregivers, only children) through forums, websites with targeted articles and audience.

Medication management: Reminders for recipients to take their meds, alert them (could be via email, a buzzer, or a bell) if they forget, and let the caregiver know if their loved one has, or has not, complied.

Care Coordination: It might be a shared website for caregivers and others interested in pitching in to help and/or get updates, or services to connected families with professional caregivers.

I asked aging in place technology guru Laurie Orlov to choose her top picks for family caregivers:

GreatCall 5Star Response

1) GreatCall 5Star Responder Service – mobile PERS

2) MobileHelp – mobile PERS

3) BeClose – wireless, sensor-based home monitoring

4) GrandCare System – wireless, sensor-based home monitoring system with communication and messaging

Telekin

5) Telekin Computer – senior computer, sold by FirstStreet as the WOW computer, supporting Skype

6) TabSafe – medication dispensing and reminders

7) Independa – caregiving software application – including TV-based communication

8) CareLinx– finding home care workers without an agency

9) lotsahelpinghands.com–creating a shared website for caregivers

Follow Sally Abrahms at www.sallyabrahms.com and on Twitter @sallyabrahms