Technology: Assisted Living
Residents in assisted living facilities around the world have seen quite a bit during their lifetimes. They lived through wars, have seen humans walk on the moon and even may have seen their grandchildren have children of their own. Comparing the lives of these individuals as youths to modern-day is quite the change. Throughout this time technology has been on the upswing and only gets more advanced by every passing day. These men and women never really relied on technology for the majority of their lives, but now they find themselves in a position where technology can not only improve their lives, but extend them.
In today’s world, everything is intertwined by technology and everyone needs some sort of computer knowledge, no matter how old or even how young the person may be. The reality is that many elderly men and women have been retired for quite some time and are now residents in retirement homes and assisted living communities. Within this post-retirement time span, many seniors surprisingly have their own fair share of knowledge when it comes to technology. With the senior citizens who aren’t computer savvy, many retirement communities offer web-based education now to further enhance the experience of all their residents. For example, many Grandmothers and Grandfathers are staying in touch with their Grandchildren using e-mail, Facebook and other internet based methods of communication. The uses of newer technologies, such as tablets are becoming more and more popular in senior living communities. Scheduling is often an issue when trying to visit Grandma or Grandpa in an assisted living facility; this is where video chatting can become very useful. Having this access and connection to family and loved ones actually makes senior living more appealing, giving residents a homier atmosphere knowing their families and loved ones aren’t as far away as they initially believed. These residents are not only more connected to the outside world, but they are also more connected than ever to staff members within these communities which is extremely important.
Many assisted living communities have also begun using monitoring systems that can detect emergencies with the use of real-time sensors. These sensors, placed all around a resident’s living quarters are designed to detect movement and activity, or in some cases lack thereof. These sensors, for example, can detect when a resident enters his or her bathroom and just how much time they are spending inside. The purpose of these sensors is to detect unusual activity to warrant a visit from facility staff. In the event of an accident or emergency, these sensors can prompt a response much quicker. More advanced monitoring systems are also available, for example to track vital signs of residents.
Many assisted living communities give the residents the option to leave during specified hours. These residents can go for walks, go to the store, etc. Given the age of some of these residents, many might get lost, forget where they’re going or forget their way back. In these cases, some of these assisted living communities have GPS enabled watches or other devices that each of their residents wear. These items send a signal out automatically to the assisted living community pinpointing his or her precise location. In the event of a resident going missing, these devices can find them immediately wherever they may be. There is no video surveillance or audio recording involved, thus these monitoring systems are not invading on residents’ privacy. These technologies are incredibly useful and necessary tools to take proper care of those who need it.
Emergency Call Buttons
The most crucial aspect of assisted living communities is life safety. These residents are at a point in their lives where 24/7 assistance might be necessary. Technologies such as call buttons are one of the best ways to stay connected whenever a resident needs assistance or has an emergency. These call buttons can be programmed to be connected to a staff member, caregiver or an emergency response team at the assisted living community. These call buttons reduce response time dramatically. There are many types of emergency call buttons, one being a pendant hanging around the neck of a resident. This pendant allows the resident to have quick 24/7 access to emergency care if and when needed. Also integrated with GPS technology, once the emergency call button on the pendant is pressed it wirelessly sends out a signal to a caregiver or staff member pinpointing their exact location in the case of an emergency. This GPS technology further reduces response time avoiding the responder to have to search through the residence trying to find the resident in need. For example, if the resident is not able to call out or has become unresponsive in the bathroom since pressing the emergency call button, these GPS enabled pendants prevent the responder from looking in other rooms prior to finding the resident and leading them to their exact location. Call buttons have several uses such as assisting with medical emergencies and fires, as well as burglary.
Although these communities are assisted living communities, the men and women who reside within want nothing more than independence, for the most part. No one wants to have to constantly depend on others for help. With the help of technology, these residents can live more independently and comfortably while still maintaining a constant connection with aid extremely close by in the result of an accident or emergency. However, this technology, although extremely useful and helpful, can never replace another human being on the staff. These technologies only reinforce the mission of assisted living communities, for residents to feel at home while getting the care they need.