We often get asked about home health products, such as medical equipment, personal emergency response systems, medication dispensers and medical supplies. With our years of working with seniors in Pinellas County and Tampa Bay, we have a lot of experience with what works and what doesn’t. We also stay up to date on new trends and products to assist seniors to age in place safely. During 2012 and beyond, we will be dedicating a series of posts to this topic as well as reviewing aging in place technologies and products on our Easy Living and Aging Wisely blogs.
If you are a senior or a concerned family member with elderly parents, you might also want to check out EasyLiving’s Aging in Place Quiz and Seven Ways to Talk to Your Aging Parent about Getting Help at Home. Starting the conversation is often the toughest step. There are actually a lot of resources for seniors, but it can be complex to navigate through them and it is easy to be sold on choices that aren’t best for your loved one. When you face this scenario, a geriatric care manager’s assessment or consultation can be a valuable tool for your family.
As an introduction to home health products and aging in place technology, here is an overview of some of the categories of products available:
Personal Emergency Response Systems
Made popular by the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials many years ago, these systems now come in a wide variety of forms and with varying options. A basic push-button system (usually worn as a pendant or on the wrist) typically costs between $25-45/month for the monitoring/response service. There may be an installation fee, but often if you work through eldercare professionals like our EasyLiving team you can get that fee waived. Local aging agencies may also have discounted programs or fee help for low income seniors. System add-ons include check-in service (a call/check daily or more often), medication reminders, health monitoring (i.e. technology to take blood pressure, weight, blood sugar to track and send results to caregivers), and fall detection systems (i.e. a system that can detect a fall even if the person is unable to press the button).
Home Monitoring Systems
This category is tied to the personal emergency response systems, but involves a more complex set of options to monitor behavior, health, etc. on a more active basis. These may include sensors which monitor activity (i.e. has someone gotten up from bed, been in the bathroom, not moved about in a while) and may also include medication dispensing/monitoring and health monitoring as mentioned above. Some seniors do not like the idea of these systems due to feeling “watched” so it is important to introduce these the right way and involve your loved one in the decision process. Sometimes these systems can be very useful in combination with the human resources of caregivers. The monthly fees and installation on these systems are greater, but can reduce costs compared to moving to assisted living for example.
Medication Assistance Systems
The options here vary from as low tech as a simple pill box to electronic systems with locked medications which are dispensed with a reminder and may even notify a caregiver if medications are not taken in a timely fashion. There are also different packaging options for medication available at certain pharmacies, which can essentially help package the medications much like a pill box.
Our next post will go in to more depth about durable medical equipment for the home, communications tools, and home modifications/universal design.
EasyLiving, Inc. provides home health care and senior companion services to seniors in Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida. We make it our mission to help seniors age in place and be proactive in their health and care, as well as to educate and assist family caregivers. Contact us at 727-448-0900 for questions, concerns or senior care help today.