How Technology is Changing Senior Care
Rapid changes in technology are driving quick innovation in senior home care franchise
It wasn’t so long ago that the only senior care technology available was a clicker elderly loved ones could wear around their neck to call for help. However, today technology is changing senior care and allowing thousands of seniors to age in place rather than transitioning into expensive, assisted living arrangements.
For companies like Touching Hearts at Home, technological advances are having a big impact on at home senior care. A recent piece at Aging.com notes four key areas in which new innovations are providing ample opportunity for seniors.(1) These technologies address mobility and accessibility, memory loss, sensory impairment, and companionship. Aging.com notes this is a watershed change as people get older.
“For centuries, seniors have been taken care of somewhat routinely: there is a doctor (who diagnoses and maintains medication needs) and caregiver (a family member or group of nurses who look after daily needs,” Aging.com writes. This is beginning to change, particularly for Baby Boomers. “That’s because technology has never been better for senior care.”
Here are just a few of the ways technology is improving senior care—and how businesses like Touching Hearts at Home are positioning themselves to better enable our loved ones to age in place.
The Internet of Things opens a lot of doors for information delivery
You may not have heard of the “Internet of Things,” but chances are you’re using it without even realizing it. In fact, the IoT as it is know is all around you. That new smart TV is connected to the Internet. The handy Amazon Echo or Google Home also hop onto the net for you. According to AgingInPlace.org, there are hundreds of potential applications for IoT in senior care.
“Your smartwatch can help track your sleep at night and steps throughout the day,” notes AgingInPlace. (2) “They come equipped with sensors that detect footsteps and other motions, like tossing and turning while you sleep. You can even program your smartwatch or fitness device to transmit this data to your doctor or nurse so they can help monitor your activity.”
Information from an Apple Watch or other wearable can be delivered to care providers to help them assess a patient’s needs or progress through recovery. At the same time, with the simple touch of a screen, a senior in distress can call for assistance.
No more is it simply a pendant and “Help, I’ve fallen!” Today, a senior can say, “Hey, Siri, call Touching Hearts,” and help will answer them in moments.
Technology is changing senior home care with safety improvements
The National Council on Aging says that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors. (3) Many of those falls occur at home, as seniors attempt to undertake simple tasks that have become more challenging with age. Among those tasks: turning on the lights in a dark room or tripping over the rug as they make their way to the thermostat in the middle of the night.
In both these cases, IoT devices can help improve a senior’s safety and quality of life. Consider a world in which your loved one can wake up and say, “Alexa, turn on the air conditioner,” when they are hot. Or they enter a dark room and say, “Hey Google, turn on the lights.”
Giving seniors at home the ability to control their environment without having to risk a fall is just one of the tremendous improvements IoT technology brings to quality of life for today’s seniors. The more you look at the transformative nature of technology in senior care, the more benefits you’re liable to find!
Affordable broadband is driving the senior technology boom
Just ten years ago, fewer than half of homes had broadband Internet connections. Those numbers were even lower for seniors, with many on fixed incomes choosing to forego surfing the web to save money, according to SeniorLiving.org. (4) That’s changing today, and more seniors than ever are online.
“Several internet providers recently took measures to ensure that seniors have the opportunity to enjoy the internet and experience the same opportunities for learning and enriching their lifestyle as other individuals that use the internet,” SeniorLiving points out. “Special programs or other features offered by some companies allow seniors the ability to obtain internet service at a lower cost than other customers.”
Connecting to the web provides seniors new opportunities to age in place, driving a higher quality of living for the elderly. For companies that provide senior home care, these technologies are transforming the way business is done, as you will see.
Technology improves senior health and happiness
The nature of communications have changed as technology improves the human connection. This is true for seniors, who now utilize smart phones to Facetime with grandchildren, keep up with relatives via social media, and schedule doctor’s appointments, all from the comfort of their favorite chair.
The ubiquity of Internet and smart phones means seniors feel more connected to the world around them while maintaining the independence they value most, according to Pew Research. A recent study from Pew found more than 80% of seniors own some form of cell phone, and more than half of those individuals use smart phones.(5)
“Today, roughly half of older adults who own cellphones have some type of smartphone,” the Pew study states. “In 2013, that share was just 23%.”
In that same study, more than half of seniors acknowledged the positive effects technology have on their quality of life. Among the factors seniors frequently cite: improved communications with family and care providers.
Technology reduces costs and improves patient outcomes
One of the largest costs in senior care is labor. At the same time, a shortage of skilled workers has stretched the senior care workforce thin. The situation deteriorated even further with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, technology is enabling a new generation of senior care providers to better serve their clients, as HealthTech Magazine notes. (6)
“The issue of high staff turnover in senior care calls for automation and timesaving collaboration tools to streamline workflows and improve morale,” HealthTech writes. “In implementing solutions such as smart speakers and secure mobile devices for communications, technology can positively impact workload management and productivity, giving caregivers more time to provide direct care and enjoy their interactions with residents.”
With better communication with their care providers, senior age-in-place outcomes improve. They maintain their independence, but they also have the peace of mind they and their loved ones need for them to be able to remain at home.
For care providers like Touching Hearts at Home, this means technology is one of the key ingredients to long-term growth and improved client relations. Technology is changing senior care, and Touching Hearts is on the front line.
Technology changes the way seniors manage medicines
Perhaps the most critical way in which technology is changing senior care comes with the delivery of medications. Smart phones, smart speakers, and even specialized devices are helping seniors and their caregivers manage medications more effectively than ever before, as Aging.com points out. Gone are the days with the big, flip-top pill caddies. In their place, new, IoT medication assistants are driving innovation.
“There are pill boxes with alarms that allow seniors to know what exact pill they need to take and when they need to take them,” Aging.com notes. But that’s hardly where it stops. “There are companies out there developing and selling smart pill bottles, too, connecting their medications to doctors and pharmacies for data on how often patients are taking their medication. It also sends signals (like a text message or phone call) letting seniors know it’s time to take their medication in case they forget.”
For Touching Hearts at Home franchise and other care providers, this single area of technology innovation means seniors have a better quality of life, enjoy better health, and age in place more successfully and for much longer. Best of all, these devices put seniors and their caregivers in the driver’s seat of managing the daily lives of seniors.
Join the senior home care technology revolution today with Touching Hearts at Home franchise
Touching Hearts at Home franchise is just one company leveraging technology and the Internet of Things to improve senior home care. If you are interested in becoming a part of Touching Hearts at Home, contact our franchise sales team. Or, if you’d like more information, browse our franchise information pages where you can find out what it takes to become the next senior care leader in your community.