Senior care professionals increasingly turn to smart home technologies to meet patients’ needs.
As this trend grows, it becomes clear that sensors and digital devices don’t just make it easier and safer for seniors to live independently; they also provide a wealth of data that can be useful to everyone engaged in caregiving — including seniors themselves. Analysis and visualization tools transform this data into patterns and insights that make it easy for caregivers to spot situations requiring their attention.
Smart home devices can set off an alert if, for example, a sink overflows and triggers a moisture sensor. Personal health monitors can send if a resident’s pulse rate drops or blood sugar spikes. And, of course, a senior living in a community or at home can call for help using any number of devices: an emergency pendant, personal smartphone, or home assistant like Amazon Echo and Google Home.
The right data analytics can generate many other types of useful real-time alerts. For example, if a senior living independently doesn’t take his or her medication for a certain period of time, an alert can be sent to an adult-child caregiver or assigned neighbor nearby. Such notifications strengthen the senior’s social safety net and promote earlier intervention in potentially problematic situations.
For providers, one challenge remains: Notification thresholds for this type of alert can’t be fixed or arbitrary. Some seniors are punctual and diligent about taking their pills, so a delay of less than an hour may indicate a problem. Others routinely miss a dosage here and there. Therefore, any viable alerting mechanism must interpret a missed dosage in the right context to avoid generating too many false positives or missing a potentially critical event. In other words, effective alerting depends on effective behavior baselining — the core capability of modern analytics.
Effective senior care isn’t just about coming to the rescue in case of emergency. It’s also about taking appropriate measures as early as possible when a senior’s condition starts to change.
That’s where the data collected from personal health monitors and smart home devices can be particularly valuable.