New Tools for Older Folks

Source: 
PARADE magazine
Published: 
08/05/2007

 

Parade

Many baby boomers find themselves worrying about aging parents or other relatives who are determined to remain in their own homes. The good news, says Marion Somers, a gerontology expert, is that elder care is going high-tech: “Technology is letting older people improve their quality of life and preserve their independence for longer than ever before while still getting the support and care they need.” A few of Somers’ suggestions:

• Cell phones with big buttons, bright screens and extra-loud sound. Easy to use in emergencies, with service as low as $10 a month. (Be sure 911 is on speed-dial.)

• Light sensors, to automatically illuminate the basement and paths around the house.

• Electronic envelope openers, for people with arthritis.

• A QuietCare system, to help seniors stay safe by monitoring their daily activity—including eating and taking medication—via wireless sensors positioned throughout the home. It even checks if their residence is too warm or cold. Caregivers can access reports through a secure personal Web site. For less than $3 a day, the system (quietcare.com) identifies emergencies such as falls and alerts caregivers or emergency services.

• Safe Return bracelets to help track Alzheimer’s patients if they wander off (available from the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org).

• GPS navigation devices you implant in their shoes to track Alzheimer’s patients.

[Hot Tips]
Guard Against Lightning
It’s the season for lightning storms, which have become a major threat to the high-end electronics in many homes. Computers, TVs, A/C systems and phones can be destroyed by the power surge if lightning hits. Especially in the South and Southwest, experts suggest a protection system including a lightning rod on the house. (Lightning causes more than 6,000 home fires each year.) To protect your electronics, consider a whole-home surge arrestor, which needs to be professionally installed and costs $150-$500. Surge suppressors (not power strips) that you plug in yourself can help, or you can unplug valued electronics in a storm.

[Hot Numbers]
Urban Explosion
In the year 1800, just 3% of the world’s population lived in cities. This year, more than 50% of our planet’s 6.6 billion people are city-dwellers. And that’s only the beginning: The United Nations forecasts that at least 23 cities, most of them in the developing world, will have populations above 10 million by 2015. And how big will the biggest of the cities get? About 40 million. In fact, Tokyo and its immediate suburbs already have 35 million—more than the entire population of Canada. Despite the growth of these megacities, the UN says most people will be living in towns of 500,000 or less.

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