If you're like most older adults, you want to age in your own home for as long as you can. But to age in place, you have to have the health, security and support to live safely and independently on your own.
Technology has come a long way to help meet the needs of seniors living on their own. Here are 5 products and services revolutionizing independent living to help you live safer, better and happier.
1. Shopping - Amazon Dash
Another challenge of living alone as a senior, especially if you can no longer drive, is doing your shopping for groceries and household items.
While many seniors are used to calling in their order to the grocery store and pharmacy and having it delivered to their home, technology is making some things even easier!
With the press of a button, Amazon Dash will re-order your favorite items and have them delivered right to your door. No need to go online, no need to take out your credit card, no need to call. Simply press the button, and Amazon will ship you the product right to your door! Each button costs $4.99, but are rebated after your first purchase - making them free as long as you use it once.
2. Food - Meal Kits
When it comes to living along, few issues rival meal preparation. Seniors have challenges shopping for groceries and cooking the food itself. Ailments like arthritis and poor vision can make preparing food exceptionally difficult.
Seniors with medical or health conditions requiring specific diets, such as diabetics, can also find shopping and cooking for one's self challenging.
One solution is to bring meals to the doors of seniors. If you're not eligible for Meals on Wheels in your community, there are now a host of meal preparation companies that specialize in meal home delivery. You can literally have anywhere from 1-3 meals a day sent to your home.
The meals are fresher, healthier and more nutritious than your standard microwave oven TV dinner. There are a host of web based meal preparation companies out there including Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and Silver Cuisine. Some services offer frozen prepared meals or you can order the ingredients and prepare the meals yourself. With light meals starting at $8.99 it could be a great way to ensure you get at least one healthy meal a day!
3. Safety - Medical Alert Systems
There's no bigger fear for an older adult than falling on the ground with no one around to help. Over 30% of people aged 65 and older fall each year. Falls are the number one cause of injury, hospital visits and death from an injury among seniors. But if you can get help within the first hour of a fall, it reduces the risk and severity of the injury dramatically. That's where a life alert system works miracles for seniors living alone.
By wearing a pendent around your neck or wrist, a medical alert system can automatically detect when a fall occurs and contact the emergency center and your designated family members - even if you can't press the emergency button yourself.
You can even get a medical alert system that has GPS location tracking. So let's say you decide to go for a walk in the park alone and you happen to fall, the monitoring center will track your whereabouts through GPS technology and send emergency responders to your exact location within minutes.
Medical alert systems cost anywhere from $19.99 / month for your basic in-home medical alert to $50 / month for a mobile system with fall detection and GPS.
Often times, the security and peace of mind provided by an emergency response system can make the difference between having the confidence to live alone or not.
4. Healthcare - Telemedicine
Living on one's own can present challenges when it comes to travelling to and from the doctor's office. Many seniors decide to move into an assisted living community because it gives them easier and more convenient access to their healthcare needs.
New telemedicine technologies now offer a host of new opportunities to remotely monitor, diagnose and treat seniors in their own homes. Without the need for older adults to actually visit their doctors, or to stay in a facility to be monitored, healthcare can be delivered more frequently, more accurately and more cost effectively.
Telemedicine is far more than a patient merely talking to their doctor over the phone. Imagine if you were able to have sensors measuring your blood pressure and heart rate and the results were provided to your doctor in real time over the internet. Imagine you have a rash on your skin and you were able to show your doctor and discuss treatment with him live over Facetime.
5. Staying In Touch - Digital Communication
Social isolation is a key risk for seniors living alone. Not only can it contribute to depression and sadness, it can also result in accelerated physical decline. Early symptoms go undetected and instead of being easily remedied, a small issue turns into a more serious health problem.
The good news is, there are no shortage of modern communication devices to help seniors stay in touch with their loved ones, no matter where they are in the world. We'd recommend seniors get outfitted with some sort of an Ipad that allows them to communicate with family members visually through something like FaceTime, Google Duo or Skype.
Regardless, make it a point to stay in touch. Ideally seniors will get together with family members for weekly dinners and activities and supplement it with daily visual calls - a smile goes a long way.
6. Medication Compliance - Medication Dispensers
One of the biggest risks for seniors living alone is medication compliance and adherence - taking the right medications, in the right dosages at the right times.
With many seniors taking upwards of 5-10 medications 2-4 times a day, the task can be daunting. Add in memory challenges, confusion and fatigue and it can feel downright insurmountable.
Automated medication reminders and dispensers are a great alternative. They can be as simple as an app on your cell phone that sets off an alarm when it's time to take your medication - and names the medication and dosage to take. Or, it can be an automated medication dispenser that both reminds you to take your medication, and then dispenses the pills to be taken at that time. It can even record and send messages to remote caregivers when doses are missed.