New technologies are helping more seniors age in place

Published on Wed, Jun 11, 2014
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Nearly 90 percent of people 50 years old and up want to remain at home as long as possible, according to a recent AARP study.

If you have an aging parent or grandparent, having a discussion with them about their alternatives is important. However, it often is a sensitive subject, especially when the person has lived in the same place for a long time. So before broaching the issue, be sure you understand all the options that might allow for aging-in-place at home.

“If you’re considering an assisted living facility for a loved one, make sure you look at new technologies first to see if you can help them remain independent, secure and connected from the comfort of home,” said Walt Podsiedlak, health and wellness sales manager at Linear LLC, a leading provider of wired and wireless security technology for seniors.

The discussion should include what challenges your loved one faces, such as mobility, personal care and meals, and determining what kind of technology or service addresses those specific needs.

One of the most widely used technologies by individuals aging-in-place are personal emergency reporting systems (PERS), that can call for help in an emergency, amongst other functions. PERS devices have made significant leaps since TV commercials first popularized them in the 1980s. For example, new systems still connect a wrist or necklace pendant to a central monitoring station for push-button emergency reporting, but useful new features have also been added.

Here are some features to look for and consider when picking the right PERS technology:

• Temperature sensors can provide alerts to update central stations of hazardous conditions.
• An activity timer can be programmed to send a signal if a preset amount of time elapses before either an activity transmitter is triggered or the console’s “home” button is pressed.
• Audible reminder messages can be set on a recurring schedule to highlight doctor’s visits, when medication should be taken or even social activities.
• Some consoles can serve as speaker phones, allowing for convenient communication.
• Take note of the range between a transmitter and a console. For example, if your mother likes to garden, be sure the range of the PERS is wide enough to include the yard.
• Transmitters can be wristbands, pendants, belt attachments or even appear as jewelry. Discuss what would serve your loved one most conveniently.
• Consider the battery life of the transmitter and if 
it’s waterproof.
• As for cost, users should expect to pay an installation fee, and a monthly PERS monitoring charge. PERS device repair and replacement policies should also be considered.