Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Focus In Cost Saving Elder Care Technologies

One does not typically hear senior citizens and technology startups in the same sentence. However, the emerging caregiver crisis and the aging of the baby boomers spell a significant opportunity for the application of new technologies.

One measurement of this trend came out last week when the Wall Street Journey’s technology blog
Photo by Braden Kowitz
‘Digits’ reported that Google Ventures, the investment arm of the search engine giant, released their investment allocations for 2014. Google has increased their investments in healthcare startups by 566%! When one considers that the bulk of health care spending goes to pay for the care of the elderly, then one can begin to comprehend the size of the opportunity for cost savings technologies in eldercare, both for medical and long-term, non-medical care.

For a growing number of seniors today, their goal is to age in place, whether that means near their children or grandchildren or at the family home. Seniors express a desire to stay out of a nursing home or another long term care facility for as long as possible. Within the field of aging in place, a wide range of technologies exist and new ones are being developed. These products can help families stay in touch better with their elders, reduce the emotional stress of being at a distance, and decrease the care hours required.

Families will often imagine that new technologies will require that they and their elderly loved ones will require technical skills in order to be able to take advantage of these technologies. However, this concern is largely unfounded with the latest technologies as they are designed to be much easier to use for the elder and the family alike.

One can think of the types of technologies for aging in place as falling into three broad buckets. While this is certainly not comprehensive, it will help us cover the most significant cost saving technologies, since affordability is a principal subject for our blog.
  1. Safety
  2. Companionship
  3. Medication management
On the safety side, the 21st century versions of the basic emergency notification devices that emerged in the 1980s—such as the ones featured in the famous “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials—ensures that elders receive timely and appropriate assistance automatically. Today’s elder wearables can detect whether an individual has fallen and can monitor and transmit vitals to medical personnel as well as notify family through the wireless network. More information about personal safety products, the costs and the opportunities for financial assistance is on this page.

Companionship currently represents a large number of hours where paid home care workers have to be on site with the elder. Companionship is hard to automate. However, new communications technologies make interacting with elders easier and cheaper to do remotely and simultaneously. With the use of such technologies, it is hoped that far fewer seniors will suffer isolation and loneliness. With the increasing scientific correlation between social activities and maintenance of mental health, these technologies can help not just care for but also could improve the quality of life for many. Further information about companionship products and services, including the costs and financial aid is available here.

With the amount of medications that seniors often take these days, it’s an important job of the caregiver to keep track of medications and ensure that they are taken at the proper time and as directed. Mistakes can be costly, sometimes resulting in medical attention or hospitalization. Devices that aid the caregiver and family as to when and have to take medications carry the potential to save thousands per individual in avoided medical bills. Find out more about medication management features, pricing and assistance on our website.

With the amount of medications that seniors often take these days, it’s an important job of the caregiver to keep track of medications and ensure that they are taken at the proper time and as directed. Mistakes can be costly, sometimes resulting in medical attention or hospitalization. Devices that aid the caregiver and family as to when and how to take medications carry the potential to save thousands per individual in avoided medical bills. Find out more about medication management features, pricing and assistance on our website.

While Medicare does not pay for the cost of these helpful elder technologies, Medicaid’s Home and Community Based Service Waivers may in most states. Veterans have their own similar version of the Medicaid Waivers program. Find out more information about the assistance programs to help with the costs of personal safety monitoring, medication management and companion care services.