How today’s technology will help you with your ageing parents

Most of us will see or have seen our parents age. Ageing cannot be prevented; slowed perhaps, but not radically so. When our parents age they will experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Strength, energy and speed of the body decreases
  • Muscle mass decreases
  • Base Metabolic Rate decreases
  • Aerobic Capacity decreases
  • Blood pressure increases
  • Lose neurons in the brain which may lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Senile Dementia
  • Sense of hearing drops
  • Sense of taste drops
  • Sense of vision, especially in low light decreases
  • The velocity of blood flow decreases
  • Restorative sleep becomes scarcer
  • Digestion becomes slower and less complete

What it means fundamentally is that the strong, self-sufficient person you grew up with is becoming less strong, less self-sufficient every day and will likely arrive at a point where some assistance is required for them to live safely with a decent quality of life. However if you ask them how they are doing, the likely response is “I am fine, don’t worry about me”. How do you know when they need more help? (Especially if you cannot be there yourself)

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In the home a Kinect device can provide important healthcare information for a remote caregiver. The device can provide:

  • An on-going assessment of regular waking hours and movement throughout the home
    • “Are you getting out these days?” (Kinect data would be 0 during daytime if the parent is)
    • “Are you okay making your meals” (Kitchen area detection points, stove, fridge etc.)
  • Speed & Direction analysis – Are the movements such as walking getting slower or not a straight path
    • “Are you getting around okay?”
  • Fall or Stumble Detection and alerting

on-prem

How would you respond to the chart above? “So tell me what you were up to on Wednesday? Go out somewhere fun?”

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The other technology that supports healthcare feedback is the RF Micro-Accelerometer. In short, if it moves you know when and for how long. Where does this provide meaningful feedback on your parent’s condition?

  • Attached to the toilet flush handle, you will know if daily or nightly visits are becoming more frequent or becoming a problem.
  • Attached to a bed you will know how long and how restless the sleep is.
  • Attached to a Medication pill dispenser you will know if they are at least remembering to pick up the dispenser and how many times a day.

Microsoft HealthVault and health monitoring device vendors today also provide the ability for home healthcare data to be automatically uploaded to a secure health record where a caregiver can have access to data created from other devices such as:

  • a blood pressure monitor
  • an ECG device
  • a heart rate monitor
  • a peak flow meter
  • a positive airway pressure (pap)
  • a pulse oxymeter
  • a weight scale

(The parent themselves or an itinerant home care attendant may take the readings)

What the technology today provides is the ability for an ageing parent to retain their independence longer with dignity. It allows the caregiver to be proactive in helping with their healthcare and will help in making good decisions about the type and level of care or assistance that is best.

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