Baby boomers and technology – a look into home health

Another baby boomer turns 50 every 7 seconds. That is a statistic you won’t soon forget! With that number comes a major concern ebbing through our country. That concern is, how do we provide care for all of these baby boomers when they reach the point of not being able to care for themselves?

There is a solution. While it’s not perfect, and there are certainly some bugs to be worked out, technology is an obvious answer here. 68% of Americans now own a smart phone. That is a huge number of people that feel capable of not only owning a high functioning piece of technology but actually using it on a daily basis. This statistic proves that more people, and that includes baby boomers, are feeling more comfortable with technology.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets for 2017

A debate has ensued over whether the baby boomer or elderly population are able to adapt to or utilize new technology. In many cases, the answer is yes! After working in the home health care field, I was shocked to see the number of patient’s that used technology with ease.

Now, I can’t say there weren’t times where I got a phone call on how to do “such and such on my iPad”. However, the fact that an 80-some year-old woman can use an iPad is a crucial point that technology and healthcare companies alike need to focus on.

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Elderly and disabled persons are willing to go to great extent to stay in their own home and sometimes violently protest being placed in a facility. I have seen and experienced first-hand the emotions, stressful planning, and financial burden that takes place when a person is moved into a facility. It’s not pretty. That’s not always the case, but in my experience, it is the majority of the time.

Staying in their own home is almost always their number 1 choice and why shouldn’t it be? Studies show that Alzheimer’s patients do better with routines and consistency. Uprooting someone out of their home to be placed in a facility where they don’t know the people or their surroundings is traumatic to say the least.

So how do we connect the dots from fun, cool, and useful gadgets to helping the elderly and disabled?  There are a great number of products, including health tracking devices, already out on the market. These can be used in home health care in many different areas. The obvious ones here are automatic blood pressure cuffs, smart scales, pulse and oximeter monitoring devices.

Between apps, devices, and the ability to talk face to face over a screen, home health has the ability to accelerate! As I mentioned previously, healthcare and technology companies alike are taking advantage of this in an incredible way.

There are plenty of doctors that will now provide services in home over FaceTime or a similar type of communication. If they have any major questions or concerns, they will most certainly request the patient come in to be seen. However, eliminating the unnecessary need for a patient to coordinate resources to get to a doctor’s appointment is a huge milestone.

Essential reading: An overview of leading smart blood pressure monitors

With most of these devices, data can be stored or immediately sent to someone of your choosing. Whether that be a son/daughter or directly to your physician’s office is up to you. Being able to monitor your parent from a distance is a huge relief. It is possible to buy peace of mind in this case.

While there is still the worry by some that the baby boomers won’t be able to use this technology, I beg to differ. First of all, someone who is comfortable with technology can certainly set up these devices for their parents or a loved one. Secondly, the caregivers or healthcare professionals that come in the home can be trained to these products. Finally, if my grandma can use an iPad and e-mail me, she can certainly learn how to take her own blood pressure.

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Kristine Thiessen

After working in the healthcare field from age 16, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I landed on home health care and found my passion. I have been in the trenches of home health care and want to share my experience and knowledge to help others. (www.homehealthgear.com)

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