Being independent does not need to mean being alone. There is a difference between being connected to one another and being connected to the internet. And, the more we use tools and technology to keep us efficient, the less we make personal connections and the more isolated our seniors may become.
However, using tools and technology in conjunction with personal interaction is a great way to help keep your loved one safe, healthy and engaged. The first step is to have a clear understanding of where your loved one is cognitively. For issues like medication management, there are smart apps and automatically dispensing pill cases. These are great if your Mom is still able to understand and take her own pills. But, if she is just removing them from the machine to “shut it up”, then the technology is not helping. People with dementia may take on the immediate issue of stopping the alarm and forget the actual purpose is to take their medication. You may need to couple that smart machine with a personal visit, reminder phone call or a written note with specific instructions to actually take the pills.
Online grocery shopping and delivery can help keep nutrition on track. And, having someone there to help unpack the groceries and prepare a few healthy meals is an even better way to ensure that they are eating well.
Facetime and Skype are wonderful ways to connect and using memory games from advanced to basic matching is a great way to keep them engaged. But, you need to make sure that they are comfortable using the technology or that you have someone there that can help them to make the call or play the game.
If you already are in the midst of caregiving, you can use tools like motion sensor lighting to help illuminate a walking path for seniors who get up at night. Better lighting helps to create a safer environment. You can also use motion sensor remote alarms that will alert a caregiver in another room that the senior has gotten up. It allows you to do more around the house and even get some rest, but remain close by when needed.
Using the right tools at the right time with the right balance of personal interaction brings our seniors independence without abandonment.
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Dana Jessup, CSA, CADDCT, CDP.