“Open the Pod Doors, HAL!…” Part IV–High Tech, Disabilities, & Monitoring

Bluetooth is the best thing that’s happened to remote controls since the advent of infra-red technology made them easier than radio. For those with disabilities, connectivity to smart devices is making vast improvements in not only functionality, but in performance of daily routines.

Two examples are: hearing aids and assistance for the cognitively impaired. Companies are making available hearing aids that connect to smart phone apps via Bluetooth technology that allow volume control, TV program switching, phone calls, streaming music, as well as enhancing the audible sounds in a room/place. Management of daily routines is likewise available for those residents in assisted living facilities (“ALFs”)and the like with cognitive impairment. One app displays colored buttons in the person’s residence that flash until the task, for which the customizable button was designed as a reminder, has been completed and the button pushed. The next button in the sequence is then activated. Examples of such activities are the morning rituals of brushing the teeth, combing the hair, eating, taking medications, etc.

ALFs and Skilled Nursing Facilities (“SNFs”) are finding such new technology is enabling them to provide better care services. As we’ve previously discussed, residents’ particular vital statistics can be monitored, analyzed, and diagnosed, from a distance. If patients get out of bed, have fallen, are wandering, or needs a change of linens or clothing, is depressed, has developed an infection, or a variety of other abnormal change in daily routine, alerts are triggered and information can be sent such that providers are able to manage the situation appropriately and timely. When an alert is sent that a resident is anxious or is experiencing a rise in heart rate or blood pressure, calming soundtracks may be played to help alleviate the temporal situation. Similarly, wireless oxygen and heart rate monitors can also set off alerts that cause comforting sounds to help adjust breathing.

Motion sensors placed about the homes are something we all are beginning to use for security purposes. But, such sensors can also track a cognitively impaired person’s movements and routines about a home. Even simply for aging persons who aren’t exhibiting signs of dementia, data can be gathered and analyzed to learn the person’s routines, track behaviors, activity patterns such as sleeping/rising and eating. Deviations from the norm can then be spotted and appropriate action taken by those responsible for monitoring such behavior–or simply by a concerned family caregiver “watching” mom or dad from a distance. Smart sensors can even identify differences in a person’s gait and other early indicators of dementia or depression, enabling assistance and early intervention measures to be implemented “ahead of the curve.”

This series is just another showing of how my group stays on top of the “Four Ts of Retirement Income & Longevity Planning.” Stay tuned to this space for the next discussion on Robotic developments in this arena. Meanwhile, contact me via the scheduling robot, email, or phone if you need help with your family’s situation.

“Open the Pod Doors Hal,” continued–Space Aging in a Hi-Tech Universe

Medication Reminders

New tools are already available to remind folks to take their medications. These of course avoid problems such as mixing doses, which can make an existing problem worse or even lead to an otherwise unnecessary hospitalization. Taking meds on time every time and no more times than appropriate will lead to lower costs for everyone–including the healthcare industry.

Portable Diagnostic Devices

As we alluded to in a previous post, many hi-tech diagnostic devices are now portable, alleviating the need for the patient to report to a lab for testing. As we age, more frequent tests are required so that providers can monitor existing conditions , diagnose new ones, or simply maintain status on a person’s overall health. These new devices perform blood and urine tests, store, process, and instantly transmit data to providers for analysis. Such real-time reporting allows earlier diagnosis of problem areas thereby allowing earlier treatment–again resulting in lower healthcare costs all-around.

Emergency Responder Systems

These individualized systems have been around a while. Updates during the new “Internet of Things” era have added to their utility such that they can detect a fall, alert family or care providers if a dementia patient has wandered outside a protected area, and even help guide a person back home safely through GPS technology. These smarter devices enable caregivers to multi-task such as buying groceries, running errands, or just working. Airbags are being built into belts (see ActiveProtective smart belts) to prevent fall-related injuries. Meanwhile, the belt signals providers that the wearer has fallen and will need assistance.

We’ll go into a few other areas next post. Meanwhile, if you or a family member needs to look into a matter–contact us either by phone, through email, or use the scheduling robot to set an appointment. We offer comprehensive analysis and solutions to address all aspects of Retirement Income Planning.

Tech & LTC: Today’s 1-Time Diagnostic Labs Will Morph Into Real-Time Monitoring

Roles for Tech in Long-Term Care (1):
 
We anticipate that today’s discrete element testing services such as the LabCorp and Quest Diagnostic types, will morph into real-time data gathering models using wearable or implantable devices. Implants like pacemakers have been around for decades. So we’d expect little push-back on those such devices. If we compare that experience with the new implantable glucometers, which can be implanted directly into the senior’s body to track vitals, then perhaps we will get a more welcoming atmosphere for hi-tech monitoring devices. The key to understanding the monitoring is to understand that the information gathered upon which the care team makes decisions is always accurate. Because they are connected, data from these personal devices will be sent to cloud servers by such firms where it will be analyzed and crunched to determine individual patient trends and insights for the patient themselves, and their doctors and family. Ongoing reports will show important discoveries such as a decline in sleeping or exercise, or that insulin levels rise or drop at certain points in the day. Medical intervention can also occur immediately when required. So this type of real-time monitoring will occur not only in hospitals, where we have grown accustomed to IV monitors and such constantly clicking off data observations, but also in the home and about town–for off-site physicians as well as the patient themselves or family members.
 
For those persons suffering from cardiac, diabetes, or hypertension, hi-tech solutions come as biometric sensors, and smart glucometers. These wearable devices track vital signs and send emergency emails or texts in real time to care providers if current reading are outside expected parameters. They can also detect low levels of movement and “abnormal sleeping habits.” Such constant data gathering and monitoring to state individual norms and tracking against those provides necessary information needed by care teams so they can track behavior patterns and check on patients as required.
 
Before we go into the privacy concerns that should be clicking off alarm bells in your minds, we’ll go through several other areas where tech will be constantly monitoring us. “I always feel like somebody’s watching me….”

“Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL” Today’s 50-Year-Olds Will Live the Space Odyssey

The Squeeze:
 
Recent estimates predict that the population of adults 85 and older in the U.S. will almost triple over the next 40 years. Simultaneously, the working-age population is expected to decline. This means the people requiring support–the elderly–will outnumber the ones able to provide such support, financially and otherwise. AARP calls this the “caregiver cliff.”
 
Meanwhile, costs to provide health care are expected to grow by over 200% for those between the ages of 70 and 90. We already see that governments, payers, and manufacturers, aren’t really producing reductions in healthcare costs. So, seniors need care solutions in order to be prepared for this impending rise in costs.
 
Enter Technology:
 
The new developments in robot and AI technology is expected to employ virtual home assistants and portable diagnostic devices that will be able to help provide better elder care, help control medical costs—and allow more seniors to stay in their homes longer.
 
The question is how receptive seniors will be to this technological intrusion into their lives. Those in their 50s now will probably be more open to relying on technolgoy, while those 20 years older may feel very uncomfortable accepting these changes. Consequently, there will be a growing interest and market for already available and maturing technologies to support physical, emotional, social and mental health.
 
Stay tuned with this space as my new book comes out soon that addresses these realities: The 4Ts of Retirement Income Planning (the name is subject to publisher approval). I’m staying on the cutting edge of planning–make sure you’re there with me!
Meanwhile, if I can help your family in any way, use the robot to schedule an appointment or email or message me!