When considering technology solutions, many senior living organizations often look to upcoming innovations that could change their operations. From Internet-enabled devices that will speed doctor-patient connectivity to autonomous robot caretakers, it’s easy to feel like healthcare technology has a bright, sci-fi future ahead.
But for some solutions, the future should be now. In addition to anticipating technology that’s in development, it’s crucial to make sure you have some innovations already in place:
According to the CDC, one out of three older people fall each year, and for those who do, falling doubles their chances of falling again. Unintentional fall death rates have been rising over the past decade, and those numbers are likely to keep going up as the number of seniors increases.
The situation has led to more use of wearable alerts, but what happens if a resident can’t reach that button, or is unconscious? Having a passive alert system that’s powered by sensor-based artificial intelligence can determine if a fall has happened, and summon help quickly. When these alerts are paired with other technologies like vital sign monitoring, caregivers will have much more information about whether a fall was caused by an accident or an event like a stroke or heart attack.
In addition to giving residents and their loved ones peace of mind, these technologies can also increase confidence — a vital part of fall prevention.
Vital Sign Monitoring
This technology solution is important for fall prevention and assessment, but also helps for preventative care as well. Even small changes in vital signs can be indications that a negative health event may be occurring, and a system that involves artificial intelligence can detect changes without disruption to residents’ schedules.
Sensors can be worn by residents, embedded into clothes, or placed under a mattress to track vital signs like heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and respiration rate. With a solution that sends this information to a centralized software system, you can establish a baseline and instantly see any deviations from that norm.
Even senior living residences that don’t have memory care services can face challenges related to cognitive issues, especially as residents age. Residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia require special monitoring, but there may also be residents dealing with these issues who have not yet been diagnosed. Some medications, and even some vitamin deficiencies, have been known to cause confusion in seniors and may increase the chance of wandering.
Establishing a “geo-fence” that uses GPS technology can be helpful for detecting when a resident is leaving the area. This system can also be useful for creating an electronic alert when a resident is nearing a restricted area. Some wander alert systems also include the capability of turning a resident’s badge into a call button, so they can request assistance from anywhere within the designated geo-zone.
As your senior living operations grows and changes, it’s likely that your technology mix will shift as well, especially as you develop a technology roadmap that makes sense for your organization. But as you plan, also ensure that you have the right solutions in place now for a more robust, profitable, and efficient future.