Changes in technology are being used to support those receiving and providing in-home care.
As the aging population grows, so do the changes in technology that can be used to support those receiving care.
Apps and devices connect families across the country, providing caregivers, and the loved ones in their care, the products and services needed to take some of the edge off aging.
Improvements in the design and function of walkers have helped both the user and caregiver. The lighter frames reduce physical strain and allow for easier transportation in vehicles.
Impressive strides are being made on motorized chairs and scooters as well. Along with sleeker body designs, the controls on the newer products are more responsive, making it easier for users with fading or limited strength to still get out and get active.
With an alternative control device, the chairs can also be guided by physical actions that replace a standard joystick. The controls can be operated through touchpads by the feet or legs, along with chin, head and breath controls.
Several studies show a sharp rise in Internet usage of adults age 65 and older. Laptops, smartphones and tablets have become more the norm for everyday life. These devices are also playing a role in how families stay connected as well as providing access to service providers.
Access to video conference and telehealth services will eventually enable those aging adults who are more home-bound to have access to care that before might have been too difficult for their caregiver to provide.
“As people in their 40s and 50s who are more computer savvy than their parents, become caregivers I think we’ll see that use of technology increase across the country,” says Brandi Schneider, coordinator of Aging Services at the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education. “One of the things that we see more and more are people seeking virtual support. They are caregivers, but many also have full-time jobs or simply don’t want to leave those in their care alone. More and more places across the country are using online technology to help caregivers find assistance.”
When it comes to training caregivers, technology is at the forefront as well. Dr. Gary McHenry, director of education at the Schmieding Center, says an increase in the aging population is going to create a greater need for caregiving.
“That’s the thrust of our use of technology as it relates to training caregivers,” McHenry says. “Like many local and national health care organizations, we’re finding ways to take our existing training program and extend its reach as far and wide as possible, trying to take down some of those time and distance barriers. With online courses, we’re able to extend that service and break down those obstacles.”
Training programs can be found across the country through various non-profit organizations and medical university aging centers. Most groups also provide some online training and certification for caregiver accreditation.