7 Easy Ways Caregivers Can Use Technology to Keep Loved Ones Safe

We are all aware of the scope and variety of technological applications and their associated benefits to almost every industry sector or occupation. Caregiving — whether as a career or as a way to help a loved one — is no exception to technology-induced evolution.

Technology and caregiving are generally combined to improve the lives of care receivers and caregivers, improving convenience, practicality and safety of both parties. About 71 percent of family caregivers are interested in technology to aid the role they perform for relatives and spouses, but only 7 percent claim to use this technology.

Here are seven ways that apps, gadgets and security technology help keep loved ones safe.

1. Personal Emergency Response Systems

Products such as Medical Guardian and Medic Alert are personal emergency response systems (PERS), which connect loved ones to a 24-hour call response center at the push of a button. While the majority of these products can only be worn within the home, some can be worn outside and on-the-go.

The transmitter can be worn on as a necklace or on a wristband that is connected to the home phone line, and the notified call center then decides whether to call the wearer’s family members or ambulance. This gadget is perfect for anyone at risk of falling or a heart attack, but those suffering from dementia may not know to press the call button.

Caregivers should look for free trial periods and easy-to-understand pricing plans and warranties.

2. GPS Trackers

GPS trackers are wearable technology like PERS that empower caregivers with peace of mind through remaining informed about the wearer’s exact location. These gadgets are excellent for family members who are suffering from dementia or similar diseases and can permit a measurable increase in independence for both caregivers and care receivers.

Some products can be programmed to send alerts to caregivers via email, phone or text when the wearer goes outside a certain geographical boundary.

3. Reminders to Take Medication

Devices such as TabSafe or alternative medication reminders like MedMinder are ideal technologies to remind loved ones to take their medication. This can drastically improve their health and help them manage their own circumstances.

This also reduces the pressure on caregivers and limits the extent of typically extensive to-do lists. Aside from reminding the care receiver, it also alerts caregivers if medication has not been taken.

4. Health-Tracking Applications

Tools such as HealthVault and the Mayo Clinic Health Manager can help caregivers immeasurably by acting as an integrated, centralized application for storing and organizing loved ones’ health information while also preparing for emergencies.

Appointments can be tracked, health records itemized and insurance details stored. Some health-tracking applications can even be provided at no cost.

5. Support Communities

Free technology support for caregivers, such as Caregivers.com, offer support networks for families who need advice, practical help and emotional support.

These websites are such valuable resources, as caregivers can receive actionable advice and tried-and-tested recommendations from other caregivers with experience.

6. Sensor-Based Home Monitoring Systems

Wireless home monitoring systems alert families of loved ones who need extra help when a potential emergency has occurred or if something out of the ordinary happens. For example, if a care receiver remains in the bathroom for a longer period of time, it could mean they have had a fall and need assistance.

Motion detectors can improve home security and are used to detect unauthorized movement in areas under restriction.

7. Purpose-Built Computers

Purpose-built computers, such as the Telikin computer, are specifically developed for seniors, other care receivers and caregivers and come with the software already fully installed. The Telikin supports Skype and also allows picture-viewing programs, enabling users to access and share albums with ease.

While this is one of the pricier options for caregivers to purchase for loved ones, it empowers care receivers to remain social, enjoy the perks of technology and have independence.

There are plenty of options for caregivers that are coming into the mainstream. Free options and low-cost subscriptions of apps, sites and technologies do exist and can immeasurably improve lives and safety of both care receivers and caregivers.

Written by Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews writes about medical technologies and news developments for publications like The Week, BioMed Central and Kareo's Go Practice Blog. To read more posts by Kayla, visit her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews or check out her website: http://productivitybytes.com.

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