“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.

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