Planning for the future: ideas and technologies for aging in place
By Mark Gilfix
As more Baby Boomers reach their senior years, more policymakers and elder health advocates are turning their attention to the issues behind aging in place.
Overwhelmingly, research shows that older Americans would prefer to age at home or in other noninstitutional settings. But for aging in place to really work, a number of preparations must be made. An urgent health event can make staying at home impossible because of financial issues or practical concerns that cannot be remedied quickly enough.
According to Forbes Magazine, experts suggest that people who wish to age in their own residences begin preparing in their 50s and early 60s. Their preparations should include financial planning and possible home remodels that incorporate universal access design principles.
But thanks to technology, even families with members already in their 70s, 80s and 90s can take immediate steps to make life at home safer.
Philips has created a medication dispensing device that can be pre-loaded with up to 40 days' worth of medication. The device gives verbal alerts when it is time for a dose, and it can telephone family members when a dose is missed. The system feeds data into an online portal that seniors and family members can view.
According to the American Association of Retired People (AARP), wearable health monitors are losing their “device stigma” as young people adopt wearables to track their own health. Companies like Lively are making devices that combine the cool of high-tech wearables with the functionality seniors need, including panic buttons, medication reminders and activity monitors.
For those willing to invest more, companies like GrandCare offer comprehensive systems that digitally connect a range of medical devices and activity detectors. GrandCare’s online health dashboard includes health data as well as video chat and shared calendars. Experts hope that systems such as these will one day eliminate the need for nursing homes or intensive in-home assistance in many cases.
Even with emerging technology, mindful financial planning and practical preparation of a residence still form the true foundation of a long-term ability to remain at home. An estate planning attorney - like those at Gilfix and La Poll Associates - can help families navigate planning issues, such as asset preservation for Medi-Cal eligibility. These and other planning tools can help families achieve peace of mind for the future.