The use of technology has become an important aspect of senior living. Whether it is making use of the latest smartphone apps to manage medication or becoming familiar with social networking to stay in touch with family and friends, older adults have been quick to adopt the latest gadgets. This trend has not gone unnoticed by assisted living facilities and retirement communities, and a recent study confirms that the use of remote monitoring technology can considerably improve the level of care residents are offered.
Better assessment, early intervention
The study, conducted by researchers at Halleland Habicht Consulting, found that communities which implement remote monitoring techniques saw that their residents experienced a 9 percent lower discharge rate, meaning that fewer of them required more acute levels of care. By measuring seniors' ability to perform activities of daily living - bathing, dressing and eating, among others - care providers can more easily tell if they need treatment or identify potential health issues earlier than before.
"This reduction in emergency department and hospital use is also a signal of better quality of care for the individual and reduced stress and cost for the family and other informal caregivers," the study authors wrote.
Sensors and monitors are not only being used to measure seniors' ability to perform activities of daily living, they are also being put to use in an effort to recognize falls as soon as they occur. Most recently, researchers from the University of Utah developed a wireless network using an array of radio frequencies so that they can detect if a person falls without having to rely on monitoring devices they have to activate themselves.
Incorporating the latest technology into fall prevention could have an impact on a high number of seniors, as the accidents are among the greatest threats to healthy aging. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of adults 65 and older experience a fall each year, and they are the leading cause of injury-related death among the senior population. Aside from using sensors to monitor their movement, seniors may be able to prevent falls by taking proactive steps such as staying physically active and arranging their living spaces to avoid tripping hazards.