Most seniors prefer to remain in their homes as they age, but because of declining health that isn't always possible.
“Statistics have shown that a senior uses home health care for around nine months, but averages 21 to 24 months in a senior living situation,” said Lezlie Snoozy-Kaitfors, owner of Comfort Keepers of the Black Hills.
The Rapid City business, which provides in-home care services, is helping seniors stay in their homes thanks to advances in technology. Each senior's case is different, so an assessment of their needs must first be conducted, Snoozy-Kaitfors said. “We look for a complete solution to this person’s care,” she said.
The grandCare system monitors seniors while they're at home, alerting Comfort Keeper's home health team if there are irregularities like activity during unusual times. A touchscreen monitor that comes with the system allows seniors to easily access news, weather, or Skype with family members.
“The grandCare system can also be set up with reminders for such things as medications,” Snoozy-Kaitfors said. “It also takes and records weight, blood pressure, pulse oximeter and glucometer. If numbers are out of range, it notifies us, so we can contact the senior and figure out what’s going on.”
Other equipment can be set up in seniors' homes such as locked medication dispensers that are programmed to dispense the correct amount of medication at the proper time.
“The medicine regimen of a senior can be complex with multiple medicines needed at certain times. A dispenser can eliminate the risk of medicine error. It helps to prevent overdoses,” Snoozy-Kaitfors said. “Non-compliance of medication is one of the big reasons why someone ends up in a facility.”
Other technology includes wearable pendants, which seniors can use to call for help if they need assistance.
Even with the advances in technology, Snoozy-Kaitfors finds that there is a stigma surrounding the acceptance of home health and seniors wanting to enlist their services. But she says employing home health services is a proactive measure, allowing caregivers to set up a system that allows loved ones to maintain independence for as long as possible.
“We’re fortunate in this time period where we are with the aging population and where the technology is,” Snoozy-Kaitfors said. ““These advancements can lead to longer independence and a sense of safety in place.”