As the Baby Boomers continue to retire in droves over the next 10 to 20 years, the healthcare system will need to adapt as more seniors choose to live at home instead of going to a nursing home or assisted living facility, both of which can be expensive and unpleasant for some of the elderly.
According to the AARP, just under 90% of seniors say they want to stay in their own homes as they age. This is what’s often known as “aging in place.”
Just a few years ago, leaving seniors at home unsupervised might have been unthinkable. As people get older, their likelihood of slipping and falling, having a health emergency, and other health risk mishaps increases. However, thanks to the Internet of Things and the latest cutting-edge technology, seniors can now stay at home and still get the vital health services and monitoring they need, without intrusion and without losing their independence. Family members and friends are able to rest assured that someone is watching over their elderly loved ones at all times – even if the family lives thousands of miles away.
Why Aging in Place?
Seniors spend years, if not most of their adult lives, living in the same home. They’ve invested their hard-earned money into a comfortable living space, so it makes sense that they would want to stay there as they get older and their health deteriorates.
Staying at home often keeps seniors close to their friends and family. They’re familiar with the local community and usually know people that can help them get around.
In addition, staying at home is also a way of avoiding having to pay for an assisted living community or nursing home. The average cost of a nursing home is $225 a day ($6,844 per month) for a semi-private room, or $253 a day ($7,698 per month) for a private room.
Unfortunately, in the past, staying at home usually meant having a live-in nurse, which could easily be just as expensive if not more expensive than a room at a nursing home. Family members were stuck between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”: They wanted their elderly loved ones to be able to remain at home, but also worried about their health and ability to remain at home safely without additional assistance.
Thankfully, technology is changing that, and today’s seniors have more options than ever before.
How to Make Aging in Place a Reality
With new aging in place technology, the elderly can stay home alone and still get the medical attention they need. New aging in place programs use wireless sensors (no wearable monitors are required) to keep track of the patient’s health and activity. A registered nurse will monitor the patient’s healthcare data over time to track any changes to their health, reporting information to the senior’s physicians. Wireless scales help them monitor the patient’s weight and eating habits. Motion detectors track the patient’s movements at home, so the nurse will know right away if the patient has fallen or sustained a possible injury.
With a new system that combines the supervision of trained medical professionals and the latest monitoring technology, seniors will also have a chance to digitally chat or skype with their registered nurse about how they’re feeling. The nurse will screen them for loneliness, depression, anxiety, and get a sense of their overall cognitive abilities. Family members and loved ones can “check in” on their loved one’s status at any time with an app and the Alexa interface; in addition, the patient’s nurse can report to family members on a regular basis.
Today’s seniors don’t have to choose between going to a nursing home and hiring a live-in nurse. They can stay healthy and independent while living at home thanks to the latest aging in place technology and access to health care professionals – all while remaining happy and comfortable while retaining their independence, too.