Senior Care Technology: The Solution to Increasing Industry Demands
Today, the senior care industry is growing rapidly, and the challenges that have been a staple in senior care are also growing. Fortunately, advancements in senior care technology provide sound solutions to these problems.
Recognizing what obstacles are currently causing the industry trouble and embracing the technological solutions that are available will bolster the senior care industry and help it to thrive.
The number of caregivers available in the United States versus the number of seniors that need care is a problem that cannot be ignored. 83% of caregivers of seniors are family members, neighbors, and friends who are not paid any compensation. In addition, there is a lack of people who are qualified as caregivers who are able to properly care for the nation’s seniors. A recent study showed that in 2010, there were an average of seven caregivers for every person aged 80 or older who needed 24/7 care. In 2030, the ratio is projected to lower to 4 to 1.
AARP senior policy analyst Lynn Feinberg explains, “More than two-thirds of Americans believe they will be able to rely on their families to meet their needs when they need long-term care, but this confidence is likely to deflate when it collides with the dramatically shrinking availability of family caregivers in the future.”
To make the situation even more precarious, the number of seniors overall is rising. 65 million family caregivers are caring for adults aged 50 and over; there are currently about 109 million people who are over the age of 50. By the year 2020, another 10 million adults will be over the age of 50. In addition, out of the entire U.S. population, 17% will be over 65.
According to Alert-1, over half of the caregivers who are over the age of 18 are employed full-time. Due to this, caregivers are suffering from many work-related difficulties in their main careers, impacting their employers along with the economy. Because of drops in productivity and a higher risk of injury on the job due to a lack of self-care, caretakers are estimated to cause businesses to lose $34 billion annually. Add to that the fact that they have to pay roughly $13.4 billion a year as part of caregivers’ health packages, and you have a recipe for economic disaster.
Impact on Caregivers
Caregivers who are family members of an aging senior will often have a difficult time as their loved one continues to age. While at first they may be only needed for small quick tasks, as the senior ages, the commitment of time, energy, and money the caregiver puts into caring for their aging loved one often grows to become a full-time job. This strain is often in addition to the caregiver potentially being employed full-time, having children to care for, and several other obligations that often suffer because of the care they provide, oftentimes without sufficient training, devices, or time.
On average, family caregivers spend 20 hours a week taking care of their aging relatives. Approximately 13% spend 40 hours or more a week. All the time these family caregivers spend caring for their aging senior takes time away from other family members, their careers, their financial obligations, and themselves. With this in mind, it is no surprise that caregiving is physically and emotionally taxing. Many who have been caregiving for a long period of time are in bad health. They have bad eating habits, they do not go to the doctor as often as they should, and do not keep up with their exercise activities. This leads to yet another large problem: It is difficult to care for another human being when a caregiver has no time to take care of him- or herself.
What Technology is Doing for the Senior Care
Every day, there are more and more advancements in technology that are aimed at helping not only aging seniors, but caretakers as well. One of the biggest challenges of the senior care industry has always been monitoring seniors at home without intrusion. For aging-in-place services, wireless sensors are now available that can be placed discreetly around a senior’s home; these allow caregivers to monitor their loved ones’ activities and vitals without having to physically visit them to do so. Since this technology is placed throughout the home, seniors are not required to wear pendants, bracelets, or other uncomfortable or intrusive wearables.
In addition, mobile technology provides a solution to the problem of the elderly not being able to contact emergency responders in the event of a medical emergency. Today, there are 24/7 monitoring services linked to home alert systems; these 24/7 monitoring stations are staffed with medical professionals at the ready – and the best aging-in-place services use systems that automatically alert those professionals when they are needed.
Another critical issue looming over the senior care industry has been a lack of options for caregivers to check in on their loved ones without having to call or visit – sometimes several times a day. Technological advancements have made possible mobile apps that caregivers can now use to check in on aging relatives from any device, even if they are thousands of miles apart. These apps are linked to the in-home monitors of the best aging-in-place system available today.
There are many additional solutions for the senior care industry that technology has made possible. Family members can now get updates on loved ones with a monitoring system that incorporates Alexa by Amazon; it’s as simple as the caregiver asking Alexa how the senior is doing.
Tech solutions today facilitate communication between patients, caregivers, and physicians, too. The latest senior care technology enables doctors to remain updated about their patients’ conditions, which eases the long-standing problem of doctors needing to quickly be “brought up to speed” on an elderly patient’s condition in the event of an emergency, saving precious time when minutes count.
In the past, once doctors were no longer making house calls as part of their routines, it was extremely difficult to get a patient to a doctor’s office for appointments, especially if mobility complications were present. Today, technology provides a less expensive, safer, more convenient alternative by way of virtual care appointments and telehealth visits via phone, computer, or mobile device.
With these developments in senior care technology, many of the most pressing issues that have plagued the industry finally have sound solutions. Elders are able to live happily and healthy for longer while staying in their homes, and caregivers can use the technology to check in on their loved ones without spending countless hours traveling to and from their home, the elderly person’s home, doctor’s offices, and more. This in turn frees up much-needed time for caregivers, allowing them to focus on their careers, families, and themselves. Their workplaces don’t lose so much money to productivity problems, caregivers remain in better health, and the financial burden on the economy is lessened.
The senior care industry can continue to grow and deliver the best care – not just for the elderly, but also for their caregivers – thanks to the evolution of senior care technology. For more information on how the best senior care technology can help elderly care businesses thrive, contact us today.