Heart failure, diabetes, respiratory problems, canoeing, bicycling, golf. What else belongs on the list of adjectives that describes today's seniors? Multiple co-morbidities? Shopping? Dialysis? Hiking?
Last year, I was chided by the founding president of the American Telemedicine Association for assuming that remote monitoring is only for the elderly and that "chronic condition" automatically means "homebound." In an interview that eventually became the HCTR piece "Keeping Seniors Independent, It All Makes Cents," Dr. Jay Sanders, one of the gentlest people in healthcare, strongly advised me to get in touch with today's seniors.
He told me, "This is not the elder population of 50 years ago," citing examples of engaged and connected persons of AARP age living active lives and working seamlessly with technologies. He stressed, "A new senior market is demanding attention from providers of all stripes to heed its desire to age in place in their own homes. Active, healthy seniors populate [today's] telehealth marketing literature, not homebound people with multiple chronic conditions."
A new web page from home telehealth research firm Information For Tomorrow identifies a range of new telecommunications-ready tools and health services to accommodate this new breed of seniors that is voicing a new set of needs. They may need some help but, unlike their parents, they want to live independent, active lives, and not necessarily always at home.
This is a new generation of mobile home care clients, clearly expressing new needs and new demands. There are a number of these new tools outlined on IFT’s new web page. One of the more unconventional is the Stay-nTouch personal emergency response system from SafePresence out of Lincoln, Nebraska [IFT outline here].
According to company literature, instead of automatically signaling for help after a fall or other emergency, the Stay-nTouch PERS is designed to "accommodate users." Users set up the discretely designed device, which looks like a clock radio, to indicate who should be notified in an emergency situation and what type of situation should be consider an emergency. Noting that call buttons are sometimes pressed mistakenly, product designers inserted a customizable "grace period," after which the device asks the user if the designated emergency caregivers should be contacted. The senior living alone is spared the worry that adult children, already on edge about Mom still stubbornly living alone, might grow more concerned than necessary due to frequent alerts. Outcome: no unnecessary call is made, and users know that their independence and dignity will be maintained.
Audrey Kinsella, MA, MS, is HCTR's telemedicine reporter. She has written on home telehealthcare and new technologies for home care service delivery for 20 years, in 6 books, multiple web sites, and more than 150 published articles. Audrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-348-5308.
©2016 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. email@example.com