In households across the US, more and more families are wrestling with the issue of care for an aging loved one. We face this challenge because we must; we’re officially an aging population.
For many families, the subject of senior care can be polarizing, and debating the possible solutions can quickly push families towards an epic deadlock – one that pits the advantages of care against the advantages of independence until the greater force wins out. Thankfully, seeing independence and care on opposite sides of the solution spectrum is something we can now dispense with. We’re finally entering an era where we can expect solutions to address both.
Caring Evolves for the Digital Age
Traditionally, the issue of how to do more or better in terms of care was resolved in the decision for seniors to move from their own homes. This meant moving to some form of managed care residence, into their relatives’ homes, or a move to a new location close to their families, for more accessible day-to-day support. Without such difficult decisions, concerned family members could be left in a state of perpetual worry (and guilt) with little more than regular telephone calls to ‘check up’ on the wellbeing of their senior loved one – a practice that however well-intended, can undermine the enjoyment of independent living for seniors aging in place, and even erode family relations. What’s more, this provides no fail-safe means of knowing about important events that happen (or don’t happen) between phone calls.
“It’s such a common problem,” says Valerie Jurik, Independent Living Strategist at i-SaiSo Inc, “and it’s one that’s being fuelled by a number of factors such as economic downward pressure on the caregiving generation, prohibitively expensive third-party care costs, and increasing longevity of seniors who naturally want to remain independent in their own homes for as long as possible and don’t want the intrusion of camera-based monitoring.” What remains is a growing care gap for seniors and their families, but with it, an opportunity to evolve our family strategies for senior care.
Our culture of near-ubiquitous smart devices enables us to remain connected and informed, wherever we may roam. It stands to reason then that these same benefits extend to new ways of caring for the senior members of our family. Evidence that the technology world is responding to serve the needs of the market can be seen at the Silvers Summit, part of the upcoming CES tradeshow, where companies like i-SaiSo Inc will launch products to support a new definition of senior care – one that’s built for families of the digital age.
i-SaiSo Wellbeing Monitor
One such solution making its debut at CES is i-SaiSo’s Wellbeing Monitor. Families will experience the solution as an easy-to-operate mobile app that has been built on the principles of universal design for one-click operation for seniors of all technical abilities. The Wellbeing Monitor keeps families connected and helps seniors to confirm when routine, expected activities have occurred, such as meals, medication or exercise.
One of the solution’s great strengths is in accommodating flexibility and change into this routine. As anyone who has been on the panic-end of a situation where a senior loved one can’t be reached will know, a simple status change on the app for ‘I’m out’ or ‘I’m napping’ can avoid a lot of unnecessary concern. Likewise, seniors can avoid the frustration of feeling like their freedom and autonomy is being cramped by the concerns of family.
Ray Wright, CEO of i-SaiSo explains, “If we’re not living nearby to our senior family members, it’s so easy to jump to the worse case scenario of what might have happened. It’s a symptom of the very real fear that on the one occasion they may actually need our help, we won’t be aware of it.”
The i-SaiSo Wellbeing Monitor resolves this challenge a number of ways. For emergencies, the senior (user) can simply tap the ‘I need help’ button on the app interface and their family member (administrator) will receive a message alerting them to this so they can immediately instigate a call, Skype or FaceTime session. But this alone isn’t sufficient to build a picture of wellbeing for remote purposes. Importantly, the i-SaiSo Wellbeing Monitor also alerts family member(s) when things don’t happen.
For example, if the period for taking mid-day medication expires without confirmation from the senior user, the administrator will see a red indicator for this event on their app dashboard, clearly indicating it hasn’t happened as anticipated. If no further confirmation is received, an in-app warning message is sent to the administrator. If there is still no confirmation from the user, that message will be escalated at 15-minute intervals via email or SMS to the administrator. A quick glance at the user’s status quickly rules out more benign reasons for a lack of response (such as napping or being out.) This gives families and seniors reassurance that unusual events don’t create long periods of vulnerability for seniors who may not be able to proactively request help.
“What the i-SaiSo Wellbeing Monitor delivers is an affordable, practical solution for seniors aging in place and their families; regardless of their geography. It’s the unobtrusive family-centric care that independent seniors want, and the peace of mind and real-time reassurance their families need,” says Jurik.
The i-SaiSo team will be demonstrating the features of their Basic, Silver and Gold packages during CES (LVCC South Hall) at booth #26431.
i-SaiSo’s Independent Living Strategist, Valerie Jurik will be speaking at the CES Silvers Summit on Tuesday January 7th at 3:30, LVCC North Hall, Room N256.
i-SaiSo Wellbeing Monitor is available from Janaury 2014 via www.i-saiso.com