- Insurance: Auto, Home,
Life & More
- Tools & Advice
- Common Insurance Questions
- Auto Insurance Discounts
- Add a Teen Driver
- Learning Center
- Home Inventory Checklist
- Life Insurance Calculator
- Identity Protection
- Quick Links
- Get Insurance Quotes
- Find an Agent
- Manage Your Policy
- Payment Options
- Claims Center
- Repair Facility Locator
- Welcome Center
- Mutual Funds: Save, Invest
- Start Planning
- General Investing
- Education Savings
- Retirement Accounts
- Small Business Plans
- Rollovers & Transfers
- Fund Information
- Life Path® Funds
- Stock & Index Funds
- Bond & Money Market Funds
- Fund Performance
- Fund Prices
- Fund Selection Tool
- Quick Links
- Open an Account
- Manage Your Account
- Investing Resources
- Account Help
- Find an Agent
- Contact Us
- State Farm Bank®
Full Service Financial
- Tools & Resources
- Online Banking
- Mobile Banking
- Banking By Phone
- Financial Calculators
- News & Updates
- Security Information & Alerts
Thanks to a host of new gadgets, family and friends can monitor elderly loved ones—from across town or across the country.
Carla Panciera lives two hours away from her mother, Mary. At 83 Mary is healthy and living independently. Yet when she visited Carla last summer, “Mom fell and tried to hide it from me,” Carla says. “Luckily my kids were with her.”
Fortunately doctors couldn’t find anything wrong. But Carla, who can visit her mother only every few weeks, was still worried. “There are long stretches of time when she’s alone,” Carla says.
More than 7 million Americans know the challenge of living far from an elderly loved one: They are long-distance caregivers for relatives over age 55 who live at least an hour away, according to a survey by the National Council on Aging and The Pew Charitable Trusts. This number will skyrocket as baby boomers age; by 2030 experts predict there will be 72 million Americans over age 65 (versus 40 million today).
In response, industries are ramping up efforts to create new technologies aimed at keeping the elderly safe, healthy and connected. Some even predict it won’t be long before robots join our caregiving teams. Until then many inexpensive gadgets can provide welcome assistance right now. As Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare Planner, points out: “Technology is here to stay. We might as well make the most of it.”
Carla encouraged her mom to get a medical alert bracelet; if Mary falls now, she presses a button and emergency services appear. “The machine is easy to hook up to my phone too,” Carla says, “so if Mom is visiting me, I don’t have to be as nervous about leaving her.”
The newest systems not only enable the elderly to easily get help; they also transmit such complex information as daily vitals, location and medicine routines. “If Mom or Dad didn’t get out of bed, you’d know it,” says Loverde.
Despite some people’s hesitations about online medical records, it’s a change that’s going to continue to revolutionize medicine—and cut costs. “The use of remote patient monitoring technology in conjunction with electronic health records could save the health care industry $700 billion over the next 20 years,” says Katherine D. Seelman, Ph.D., professor of rehabilitation science and technology at the University of Pittsburgh.
Even if your elderly loved ones aren’t experiencing health issues, the internet can help them stay connected to daily goings-on—sending pictures and emails, for example, or checking and posting to a family website. “That way everyone can check in and get updates,” Loverde says. “The whole idea is to use technology that everyone in the family feels comfortable with, so that you all stay connected no matter how far apart you are.”
It isn’t always easy to introduce technology, as Sally Keach Robinson discovered when her 85-year-old mother, Maybelle, refused to wear a medical alert bracelet. “She thought the bracelet was ugly,” Robinson explains. “Her view was that she was just going to be careful not to fall.”
Many seniors value their independence and resist new gadgets that make them feel less so. “Family caregivers and care receivers will have to negotiate tolerance for a perceived invasion of privacy with concern for safety,” adds Seelman.
How can you change your loved ones’ minds? Start with a visit to their homes to view danger potentials and evaluate potential upgrades to safety measures. Propose new devices in terms of increased independence and peace of mind for everyone. Meet neighbors, hair stylists, medical professionals. “They are your eyes and ears,” says Loverde. “Make sure they know how to reach you if something comes up.”
TIP: Fill out this clip-and-save chart with your elderly loved one or download additional copies and distribute to caregivers and family members/friends.
Sidebar: In Touch
There are several different types of devices that can help you monitor and stay in touch with elderly relatives or friends.
Personal emergency response systems: About $30 monthly
Consist of an accessory, or alert, and a console, which dispatches a call to a service center.
Tracking jewelry: Monthly fee of about $50
Engraved with information; may include emergency wallet card, 24-hour emergency response service and a personal health recorder. GPS bracelets also available with two-way communication, a sensor and a panic button.
Daily monitors: about $100/month
Transmit daily vitals or medical appointment reminders via phone or Internet to medical personnel or to a private website.
Online caregiving/medical records: Free, or monthly fee starting at $10
Share appointments and other needs with a caregiving team.
Video conferencing: Phone cost plus monthly service charges, or free through services such as Skype
Look for specialized cell phones with big buttons, enhanced speakers and other specialized features for people with vision and hearing impairments.
In-home monitoring: $15/day and up
Memorize a schedule and track any unusual changes to alert caregivers if there's an accident.
Medicine reminder and dispenser systems: $5 and up
Range from simple cell phone apps and watches to computerized units programmed to alert caregivers.
If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.