When discussing the care of an aging parent, we tend to focus on the hands on caregiving tasks like preparing meals, and bathing. With so many families separated by distance, or juggling careers, children, and other commitments there are many families who are not able to provide that hands on care, but who still want to be connected and involved in the lives of their loved ones. While the need for hands on help is not going away, technology offers new avenues to stay connected while also promoting the independence and safety of our aging parents.
The internet already allows us to stay connected in ways we could have never imagined twenty years ago. We can manage our finances and social lives online, and we have instant access to information about health and services. Now we just need to learn to use these tools to help us to manage our parents’ lives and care in a coordinated and simplified way.
There is great innovation in the elder care industry with the development of simple age-friendly technology. People recognize that most seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age and we need the tools to enable them to do this safely. A few examples of the technology already available includes the Cookstop, a motion detector to automatically turn off the stove if left unattended, SafeTracks GPS shoes that will email or text message you if someone at risk of wandering has left their designated safe zone, or the Claris Companion a tablet for seniors that has automatic medication reminders, and easy to use email so your tech-wary parents never have to use a computer. The list goes on and on.
In addition to customized elder care technology, there is also the technology that you are already using online, like Facebook and Gmail. Have you tried creating a closed Facebook group to use as a space for your family to post updates and photos about what’s happening with your loved one? Many families struggle with coordinating schedules and receiving updates, so using a tool like Google calendars can be a great help. Create a family email address and an easy password and use the email account as a message board and the calendar to put in when each person will be visiting and what they will be doing. You can also use this to put in appointments and other events to remember. These are just a few ideas but there are so many others that can help to simplify the often complex task of caring for and coordinating care for an aging parent.
Author: Jennifer Kazmaier RN, Director of Care, CalaCare Ltd.