Seniors Living Independent

Wandering device

Wandering can be a serious issue for those with dementia or autism. It is estimated that 60% of those diagnosed with Alzheimers will wander at some time. Wandering is also a problem for those with autism.
Many companies are trying to create products that will assist in the safe return of loved ones.  The Alzheimers Association has a safe return project. They partenered with Medic alert and will provide a bracelet with pertinent information on it to aid in the return of a lost loved one. The cost of this is approximately 50$ with an annual enrollment thereafter of 30$.  CompfortZone is also offered through the Alzheimers Association.  It is a pocket or car mounted  device that can locate someone.  The current cost is $45 activation and $43 a month for the monitoring.  The only thing is that the small print at the bottom tells you they currently don’t havve a wrist device.  That seems critical to especially when you are then relying on someone with dementia or autism to put something in their pocket or purse before they go out.

One company that has addressed the issue of is EmFinders.  They have both a regular type watch band and one that prevents the person from taking it off themselves.  They use the 911 cellular network.  This is an advantage over other devices that use radio frequency or GPS because there are fewer issues with equipment and signal blocking among buildings or trees.   They even  have a link that allows you to check coverage in your zip code before you buy.  The cost of the equipment monitoring is about $40 a month. 

The Emfinders system is great because it looks like a watch, has the ability to be secured and doesn’t require special equipment on the part of the searchers.

Does telehealth really work?

The New England Journal of Medicine just came out with an article that did not show a benefit for high risk heart patients using a telehealth system.

Does this spell the end for the use of telehealth? Not by a long shot. What the study did find is not new. It found that older adults either don’t want to or are unable to add one more thing to their schedules.  When that thing is calling a computer every day and pressing buttons to indicate responses I can’t blame them. Who can stay motivated to do that? I can’t even bear to take a survey over the phone.

Technology if it is going to be effective must integrate seamlessly into our lives. We should be able to set it up and forget it. The Simply Home system doesn’t require the person being cared for do anything but go about their usual routine. If they vary from the routine too much their caregivers are alerted and appropriate actions can be taken.  The action could be something as simple as a phone call to remind someone to take their medications or it could be summoning an ambulance because an emergency has been detected.

Telehealth has shown benefit in the VA studies and in other smaller studies.  This latest NEJM study shows us that one of the most important parts of using technology is actual participation.  Medications don’t work if you don’t take them and technology doesn’t work if you don’t use it. 

A toast to technology that makes life easier not more complicated!