A variety of new technologies are available to help to ease a caregiver’s unique burdens.
Advances in technology have made our lives more efficient and safer in many ways. This technology is not just for the workplace; it carries over into our routines at home from alarm systems to remote-controlled lights and temperature. More than two-thirds of caregivers are using some type of technology to assist them in their daily routines of providing care. Technologies can help deliver, monitor and track the care provided. The following topics are just a small sample of offerings available for the caregiver to assist in the routine of providing care to their loved ones.
This type of system includes discreet sensors throughout the home with the loved one wearing an alert device. This technology allows the caregiver to leave the home for periods during the day and monitor their loved one remotely; it also provides the individual being cared for with some independence in their daily routine. The sensors allow the caregiver to monitor the individual’s daily routine and be alerted if something is out of the ordinary. For example, if someone is in the bathroom for an extended period of time, it could mean that a fall has occurred. Parameters can be set throughout the home to provide a safe environment and minimize the risk of injury by alerting the caregiver.
Missing doses of prescription medication or taking the wrong dose may result in a medical emergency. According to the Institute of Medicine, more than 2 million serious adverse drug events occur annually. A system to assist with medication management includes an at home dispensing system. These systems alert the caregiver when medications are due or if a dose has been missed. This is also a convenient solution in the event the caregiver is out of the home when the medication is due to be taken. Instead of calling home and reminding the individual to take the medication, an automatic alert is provided, and the medication is dispensed with accuracy. This type of assistance with medications eliminates the need for a pillbox.
Caregiving coordination systems
This type of system is an electronic journal/log that the caregiver can use to keep track of doctor appointments and specific needs of the individual. Oftentimes the caregiver is keeping track of several health care practitioners’ appointments, tests and follow-up procedures.Coordination systems allow family members and friends to all communicate on one site in relation to health status, upcoming appointments or assistance needed for the individual. This is also an excellent resource for a caregiver who does not have a large support system, as it connects them with volunteers who are willing to provide assistance and support. This helps alleviate the caregiver feeling of being alone in the process of providing the actual hands-on care.
Caregivers today face many challenges like juggling a family, work and social life while providing daily care for an individual. The advances in caregiver technology including monitoring systems, medication management and record keeping may alleviate some of the stress of this role and provide a safe, efficient environment for individuals to remain comfortable in familiar surroundings. Talk to your lovedone’s health care providers to discover what technologies are available to make you and your loved ones lives simpler.
Michele Mongillo, RN, MSN, is a clinical director who has over 20 years of nursing experience in a variety of settings including acute care, head/spinal cord injury rehabilitation and long-term care.