Longevity Network

Topic: Caregiving

  • Sept 25, 2017
  • Jeffrey Fry, CEO/President

Q: What are some pain points of caregiving?

OK, I am going to assume that this is about a family member taking care of a loved one. With that said, the most obvious and prevalent is that caregivers do NOT take care of themselves. In doing so, they quickly get burned out, and become ineffective and depressed in their caregiving If at all possible, find a way to have a family caregiver get away for a day or two a week, or at least a few mornings. You can do this by hiring a local caregiver through a service like wellbeyondcare.com.

  • Sept 22, 2017
  • Soo-Jin Imani, Product Engineering Group Director

Q: What do caregivers think about wearable sensors?

Wearable technology has been developed to alert caregivers when their patient or loved one gets out of bed (“wanders”), if they fall, or if their behavior is out of the ordinary. This means that a caregiver can leave the room, run an errand, or get some rest without worrying that their charge is in danger. This peace of mind is so important to ease caregiver stress.

  • Aug 22, 2017
  • Jeffrey Fry, CEO/President

Q: Are there apps or other technology available now to help coordinate caregiving?

Yes, there a quite a few, but most involve wearable and remote monitoring. There are a few that deal with matching you with a caregiver, but the only one I know that deals with helping a family manage a loved ones care is wellbeyondcare.com. In addition to helping families find a great local caregiver, you get access to a local RN (where the care is being delivered) as part of their service. Signup is free and they are nationwide.

Yes, there are many, each with their pros and cons, so the best app just depends on what your needs are. CaringBridge and Lotsa Helping Hands both help to coordinate care arrangements like meal help and errands, and gives the care team a place to put important dates. Both apps also have a community support element for the patient and the care team. Caring Village’s main feature is a secure messaging system for a family team to communicate, and also has places to create to-do lists, upload documents, and a central calendar. CareZone helps keep a care team in the loop with a central place to store documents and records, share notes, create a task list, upload medication, etc. eCare21 helps doctors and loved ones monitor an indivual’s health stats via wearables to track things like glucose heart rate, medication adherence and sleep.

  • Aug 22, 2018
  • Hilary Lefebvre, The Longevity Network

Q: Where are the pain points for seniors who want to age in place?

Wandering can also be a serious safety challenge for a person living with dementia, and major source of worry for their caregivers. This is difficult during the day, but if this happens in the middle of the night when it’s dark and their caregiver or other family members are asleep, it can be extremely dangerous.

Safety is the biggest concerns for older adults who want to age in place. Houses with slippery flooring, lots of stairs, and lack of railings or grab bars can be dangerous to people with limited physical mobility. Even for a healthy older adult, a fall can be difficult to recover from. And if that adult doesn’t have other people who check in on them regularly, an injury that causes them to lose consciousness or be unable to get to a phone can be truly disastrous.

For seniors who can no longer drive, isolation and lack of transportation can be another concern. Houses outside of urban areas may not have amenities within walking distance, and it may be difficult to run errands or get to medical appointments. If friends and family aren’t nearby, seniors can experience social isolation, which can seriously affect mental health. Some older adults may need to rely on family for caregiving tasks, which can be difficult if family members live further away. Even if one family member such as an adult child lives close to the parent, this can cause tension in families where other siblings too far away to share in the day to day care duties.

  • Aug 18, 2017
  • Maya Lindsey, CIO

Q: Can smart speakers (Amazon Echo, Google Home, etc.) be used in Alzheimer’s care?

Smart speakers can’t replace human care and companionship, but they can be a helpful tool for an individual with dementia, and give caregivers some needed respite.

They can be programmed to provide daily reminders and alarms to take medication, check in with caregivers, eat a meal, etc. The Amazon Echo can integrate with Google Calendar to remind patients about appointments like doctor visits or even family visits, i.e. “Anne is coming by at 1pm today, she’s your oldest granddaughter and she just started a new job teaching high school.”

Smart speakers can alleviate anxiety in other ways. They never get frustrated with having to answer repeated questions, and they can play music or read a book at a moment’s noise. Social isolation can seriously impact mental health, and smart speakers can call or send messages to friends or family members without the individual having to press any buttons.

Safety is, of course, always a concern for dementia patients, and smart speakers are rapidly developing new ways to keep older adults safe. For example, Alexa has a programmed skill called “Ask My Buddy” which can be set up to automatically alert an individual or a list of contacts that help is needed. Users can say, “Alexa, ask my buddy to send help,” or “Alexa, ask my buddy to alert Laura.” The programmed contacts then get a call, a text, and an email.

There are numerous products available now to detect falls and wandering, alert caregivers to changes in behavior, help adults with mobility issues find transportation, connect family members and caregivers, etc. There are so many opportunities for this technology to integrate and become even more user-friendly, and for this technology to be used in new ways to keep older adults with dementia safe and comfortable.