Embedded sensors … WIFI … IOT … the Cloud; technology offers way we can dramatically improve the way we monitor and manage our lives. The good news is that these advances are finding their way into senior care as well, to assist caregivers and clinicians to monitor and improve the lives of our seniors. Here are three areas where technology is making a dramatic impact on the quality of life within today’s skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, even in P.A.C.E. centers and Life Plan Communities:
- Wearable technology:
This is an exploding industry, paving the way towards monitoring and alerting caregivers to patients’ changing states of consciousness such as sleep, motor activity and vital signs.
- Fitbits are now being used to track daily activity of seniors and correlate it with recovery times.
- SmartSox, developed by researchers at University of Arizona, for diabetic patients, which use fiber optics to detect excessive pressure, heat and misplaced joint angles that could cause foot ulcers.
- MIT is working on a shirt that will not only detect the beginnings of a heart attack, but administer CPR.
- Sensor/alert technology:
Sensors have been around awhile, but they are getting smarter and being used to give patients in long-term care and assisted living communities more freedom to move as well as providing emergency help when needed.
- BAM Labs’ bed sensor mats that track moisture, movement, sleep states and even respiration rate.
- GPS Smart Sole, in conjunction with T-Mobile, puts satellite monitoring in the sole of a shoe to track the movements and location of residents wherever they are within the facility.
- Medication management technology:
Manual medication passing may become a thing of the past as technology steps in to organize schedules and delivery. This is one of the most stressful and time consuming tasks for nurses, CNAs and other personnel. Errors, no matter how slight, can cause devastating effects for the patient, their families and the care providers.
- Talyst’s InSite® System provides long-term care facilities in-facility, on-demand, medication packaging and delivery technology that greatly increases speed and accuracy of medication passes, while being more fulfilling for nursing staff to use. InSite® Systems have layers of intelligence built in, to support better decision-making, better team collaboration, better financial and utilization performance, and they’re thousands of time less error-prone than alternatives.
- INSTA Compounding System, from P&C Pharma will, with the press of a button, transform pills into a pleasant tasting liquid for those seniors who have trouble swallowing pills.
Just for fun, we’ve added one more: GeriJoy called “Buddy”, a virtual pet for seniors that, through an internet connection using an iPad, will read out the news, weather and even talk back when spoken to.
These are only a few of the amazing new technologies that are keeping seniors and their environments safer. It’s important for assisted living and long-term care providers to keep abreast of emerging technologies and prepare their management teams to incorporate those that make sense for their communities.