A recent AARP survey found that 89 percent of people 65 and older want to live in their homes as long as possible. Fortunately for them, the borders of what is possible are being extended, offering some peace of mind for the homeowner and family members who live elsewhere.
"For people who want to live at home, it's a good time to be getting old," says health care technology expert Asif Khan. "Technology is here to help, and it's only going to get better."
Khan is chief executive of Caremerge (caremerge.com), a Chicago-based company that supplies health care technology to assisted-living centers, nursing homes, senior communities and home health care providers. While Caremerge sells its products only to health care professionals, Khan has reviewed technology products seniors can buy that could help them stay in their homes longer.
Khan is especially keen on Lively (mylively.com), which provides small sensors that are placed in strategic places in a senior's home. By tracking and analyzing a person's everyday patterns, the sensors discern if the senior is not eating, not taking medications or is inactive. Loved ones can access the data via the web or iPhone. If something appears wrong, Lively sends alerts to designated recipients. The Lively system costs $149, which includes one hub sensor with built-in cellular service and six small sensors. There is a separate $19.95 a month monitoring charge.
Khan also likes Pocketfinder (pocketfinder.com), a small device that tracks a person's movements via a smartphone or on the Web. If a senior wanders past a determined zone, an alert is sent. Pocketfinder sells for $129. Of course, seniors must remember to have Pocketfinder with them when they leave the house.
There also are older-tech products that have been advertised on TV for decades, such as systems where seniors experiencing a medical emergency press a button to alert personnel at a monitoring center they need help. ADT (adt.com/medical-alert), Philips Lifeline (lifelinesys.com), CVS (mobile.medicalalertsystem.com) and Walgreens (walgreensreadyresponse.com) are four of the larger companies that offer a range of monitoring products and services. Monitoring services usually begin at about $30 a month. Installation, equipment and activation charges vary. While these products can be lifesavers, Khan notes they have limitations because the senior must initiate the call for help. "The 'I've fallen but I can't get up' type of thing -- you have to literally press the button," he says. "That's a problem if someone falls down and is unconscious."