By Chris Holbert
About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months, according to data from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. And, according to the Alzheimer’s Association just under half of those caregivers are caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
Caregiving can be challenging at times when the caregiver needs to essentially be in two places at once – with the care recipient providing care versus out running errands, at work, etc. It can be exhausting physically and mentally. But technology can help. Health and fitness wearables can monitor vitals, location, and even provide a way to communicate without dialing a number on a phone. As a caregiver, knowing how to choose the right device, and considering factors like future upgrades and security, is important when selecting technology to supplement on-site care.
Most people are now familiar with wearable technologies that track fitness goals such as the number of steps taken during the day. mPERS (Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems) are a caregiver’s take on these everyday technologies and share cellphone like functionality that provides the ability to place a call for help.
In this way mPERS devices can be viewed as a supplemental digital caregiver for when the human caregiver cannot be present. They provide feature-rich services ranging from the ability to place calls for help with a single press of a button to fall detection, location services and some can even trigger alerts if a care recipient’s vitals fall below or rise above certain thresholds.
These devices can typically be worn as a watch, on a pendant or a belt, or carried in a pocket. If a fall is detected they will immediately alert a caregiver through an app. And, the device will trigger speakerphone mode while auto-dialing the caregiver so an immediate check-in can be made on the care recipient’s physical status. If the caregiver determines the fall merits emergency response, he or she can then contact 911.
In the case of care recipients with dementia, mPERS devices can be used to help locate them should he or she become disorientated and lost. The caregiver can either access the location through an app, or if the care recipient knows assistance is needed, he or she can trigger a call for help while broadcasting a current location with the press of a button. The battery life of mPERS devices is far superior to smart phones, lasting up to 30 days in sleep mode. Most devices feature an SOS button that can easily be pressed in an emergency without the need to focus on dialing numbers.
Being a caregiver is a 24/7 job and one that many family members are happy to take on, however, the reality is that a caregiver may not always be able to be with the care recipient every minute of every day. Technology like an mPERS device can help ease a caregiver’s mind when away from a care recipient while ensuring safety, security and well-being.
Chris Holbert is CEO of SecuraTrac.