Appliances That Speak to Each Other, and Other Incredible Aging-in-Place Technology

Robear Robot

When Carol’s mother, Eleanor, had a stroke a few years back, she and her husband moved in with her. Eleanor was not very steady on her feet, and surfed the furniture to get around. Carol and her husband were always worried about her falling, especially in the bathroom. They became reluctant to leave her alone so, like Eleanor, they too became housebound.

Carol and her husband realized that with their own day-to-day responsibilities, the situation wasn’t ideal. Carol’s husband, Jeff, is in IT, so he set up some motion sensors around Eleanor’s house and linked them to a computer. He also set up a system to send a text message to his and Carol’s cell phone, when Eleanor was in the bathroom for more than 30 minutes. With this and other age-in-place technology, Carol and her husband were able to care for her mother and have peace of mind, while resuming their own productive lives. 

Nine out of 10 seniors want to grow old in their own homes, according to AARP. In fact, today, 47% of seniors ages 75+ live alone. When it comes to caregiving, more than 10 million adults in the United States providing long-distance care, as 90% of seniors do not live in the same city as their closest adult child. For these individuals, whose family members live far away, caregiving for a loved one poses extra challenges, including concerns about safety. What are some ways technology has helped ease the burden and create safer environments for seniors that are aging in place without a loved one nearby?

Last week’s AARP Life@50+ National Event in Miami explored some of the newest technology startups and their inventions. Below are some examples:

• CarePredict™ Tempo™ learns the normal activities of your loved one. It tracks daily patterns and records them in a rhythm journal. If there’s ever a change, you get an alert to reach out and it’s easier to see the bigger picture and predict if issues need follow-up.
• CareSpotter helps families find local, professional caregivers for care tasks big and small. Families can search using more than 150 criteria like language, medical experience or even hometown to find the perfect caregiver. Families save up to 50% versus agency fees, and they get to choose their own caregiver.

• Ollo Wearables: Controlled by voice, Ollo is a wearable 4G smartphone that combines a personal digital assistant with real time health monitoring. 

• AlzhUp seeks to improve the quality of life of people with Alzheimer’s by integrating actual memories and scientifically-proven therapies in a single platform, slowing the cognitive decline of the patient, as well as facilitating the active participation of the entire family and care team in the treatment process. 

• Video-call doctors’ visits are a boon to those who live in rural areas. The technology extends patient care beyond the office, enables patients to access previously inaccessible specialists, and reduces travel for patients needing frequent visits. According to USA Today, about 10 million people already rely on telemedicine, often from doctors who live in another state.

• Remote patient monitoring: Many of the routine services that doctors traditionally have provided in their office are changing. For example, patients recovering from severe wounds can take photos, which doctors and nurses then look at remotely to see if the wounds are healing well or require antibiotics or other treatment. Diabetics can transmit their blood-sugar levels, and the weight, blood-oxygen levels and blood pressure of patients with congestive heart failure can be monitored remotely. Those with asthma may have a sensor on their inhaler to alert the doctor they are using them appropriately. 

• Robots as caregivers: A Japanese engineer has developed a Robot-Teddy Bear. It looks adorable and is intended to perform tasks like lifting an elderly person out of bed and helping them stand up or move into a wheelchair. Robear is the brainchild of Toshiharu Mukai, head of the Robot Sensor Systems Research Team at the Riken-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research since 2007. Health workers typically perform the lifting task with patients about 40 times a day.

•  LED light handbag: Can’t find your keys at the bottom of your purse. No problem. Forgot to charge your phone. No worries. Companies such as Ralph Lauren are releasing stylish handbags with lights and chargers inside to accomplish both these things.

Sensor technology:  Motion sensors monitor the speed and frequency of movement throughout the house and can let a caregiver know if someone hasn’t gotten out of bed. The sensors can also track when seniors visit the fridge to make sure they are eating. And sensors near the stove know if a pot was removed and the burner left on. “In the future, expect sensors that alert you to things like the garage door being left open or that the front door is unlocked. Finders for the TV remote, the telephone, and your car keys will all be a standard part of home design. Lights will turn on as soon as your feet hit the floor when you get up to use the bathroom at 1 a.m. Appliances will “speak” to each other: Your refrigerator will send your TV a message saying you left its door open.” (source: Huffington Post)

• Android/IOS Apps What they say is true — there is an app for almost everything. For example, the My Recovery app, designed by a surgeon, helps patients prepare for an operation, to understand what to expect during and after their hospital stay, and to guide them through any necessary rehabilitative physiotherapy exercises individually tailored to their needs. Another example, Flowy, is an app that uses games to help people manage panic attacks. It’s already had one pilot trial that found that users showed a significant decline in symptoms compared to a control group, reported Newsweek. Read more on our blog about Apps for seniors.


Who better to design tech for seniors than a 90-year old inventor?
Barbara Beskind, 90, was recently hired by IDEO (the firm that developed the first mouse for Apple) to design technology especially for seniors. She is currently working with a Japanese company on eyeglasses to replace bifocals. With a simple hand gesture, the amazing glasses will turn from the farsighted prescription to the nearsighted one. Another feature is that they take a photo as people walk up and introduce themselves. The glasses also have a small speaker, so seniors could hear someone approaching better. Since she has macular degeneration and only has peripheral vision, herself, she is able to design things like glasses, that would help other seniors like her.  
Senior Living Options
Most people want to stay in their home for as long as possible. However, if you or a loved one cannot live independently and are showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time to consider other alternatives. Broaching this subject with loved ones can be challenging. Please read our blog post, “When Dad is Resistant About Assisted Living” for more details on how to have a conversation with a loved one about long-term care options.
If, on the other hand, you or your loved one has a full life, a close neighborhood and community connections, and seems to be thriving, it’s worth exploring as many in-home care options as possible.

Medicaid Asset Protection

Whether the outcome is in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care in the future, it is always wise to plan ahead. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with entry into assisted living or nursing home care, while also helping ensure that you and your loved ones get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Please contact Farr Law Firm, P.C. as soon as possible to make an appointment for a consultation:


Fairfax Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 540-479-143
Rockville Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 301-519-8041
DC Medicaid Asset Protection Attorney: 202-587-2797
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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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