Amazing Technology to Age-in-Place (But Mom is Reluctant)

AliveCor Mobile ECG

Q. My mother-in-law, Veronica, who is in her 70’s, shys away from anything that involves technology. She refuses to carry a cell phone, try an iPad, or send an email. My children would love to Skype with her, but she can’t figure out how to use Skype.

My husband, on the other hand, is tech-obsessed, and has to have the latest technology available. Since we live 200 miles away, my husband and I think that Veronica needs to take advantage of age-in-place technology, if she truly wants to remain in her home and be safe.

We know that she won’t wear a medical alert pendant, since it “screams old age.” So my husband wants to buy her an Apple Watch or something similar, with an alert button to push if she falls, a medication reminder, and other alerts that could help her live independently. But we don’t want it to sit in a drawer and collect dust when we aren’t there.

How do we convince Veronica not to resist technology that could help her age-in-place safely? Also, do you know about any of the new technology out there that is being used for these purposes, if we can convince her to use it? Thanks

A. Technology has changed the way we stay in touch with friends and family, research information, and bank remotely, and it’s also having a profound impact on elder care.

Today, the most common age-in-place applications center on remote monitoring, whether it’s through online video conferencing services such as Skype, or through mobile devices that check vitals such as blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose levels. There is also lots of other technology that will improve elder care and enhance your mother-in-law’s safety, if she is willing to give it a try.

Below are some examples:

    • Measuring activity:This app uses data from your smartphone to scope out days when you may be less active, which could be due to a health issue. The app also sends alerts to your health care team if a change in your behavior is detected by your smartphone. It can be used to help people stay in their homes longer and as a predictor for dementia
    • Recording heartrate and electrocardiograms: Using a compatible smartphone or tablet, the AliveCor Mobile ECG records electrocardiograms and heart rates anywhere, at any time. All you have to do is rest the device, which affixes to your smartphone, to your fingers or chest to record and get an electrocardiogram in 30 seconds. That means caregivers will know almost immediately whether the EKG is normal or if an atrial fibrillation is detected. Using AliveCor, patients or caregivers also can get the EKG analyzed by a board-certified cardiologist or a cardiac technician for a fee.
    • Monitoring sleep patterns and more: Technology like the new Apple Watch or the UP app by Jawbone do things like monitor sleep patterns, body temperature, heart rate, and hydration level.
    • Tracking sleeplessness and vital health data: The Living Well@Home program uses sensors to track changes in daily behavior, including sleeplessness, which can be a sign of impending disease. Another part uses an in-home device to track vital health data.
    •  Monitoring seniors in the home using sensors: Lively uses a combination of sensors and a wearable smartwatch to monitor seniors in their home
    •  Providing transportation: Uber, the $18 billion company is expanding offerings by launching a new pilot program, called UberAssist, for community-based senior outreach. Across the country, Uber will offer free technology tutorials and free rides at select retirement communities and senior centers. The company hopes to further the conversation about the way technology can improve older adults’ day-to-day lives, according to a blog post announcing the new pilot.
    • Improving life for those with Alzheimer’s: 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.
    •  Assessing home design: Home for Life provides solutions for consumers, healthcare providers, and retailers in the aging-in-place market. Their innovative home assessment software enables therapists and product/service providers to reach homeowners with the ideal solutions for remaining in their home.
    • Tracking and recording daily patterns: CarePredict™ Tempo™ learns the normal activities of your loved one, by tracking daily patterns and recording them in a rhythm journal. And, if there’s ever a change, you get an alert to reach out to your loved one or a medical professional.
    • Finding local caregivers: 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.
    • Improving communication: Controlled by voice, Ollo is a wearable 4G smartphone that combines a personal digital assistant with real time health monitoring.
    • Coordinating care: CareSync offers web and mobile apps with 24/7 concierge services to help people coordinate care. With all your information in CareSync, anybody can help with doctor’s appointments, recording medications, tracking how you’re doing, or just cheering you on your health journey.
    • Visiting the dermotologist: With a web portal and iPhone app, First Derm acts as your mobile online dermatologist. Their dermatologists have seen hundreds of different skin conditions, from eczema to malignant melanomas. They are ready to give anyone the advice they need about their skin.
    • Reminding you to take your medication: MediSafe lets medical professionals and caregivers deliver personalized medication reminder notifications- specific to each patient & medication.
    • Connecting caregivers with older adults through an in-home screen: The Silicon Valley start-up, Honor, works with established care providing organizations to connect with older Americans remotely.

Please read more about exciting age-in-place technology, in our blog post, “Appliances That Speak to Each Other, and Other Incredible Aging-in-Place Technology.”

Despite the resistance that can accompany the adoption of new technology, Joseph Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology predicts that technology will help people stay at home and manage their frailties far longer than they can today, when the average person who enters assisted living does so at 83. So how can you help someone overcome an unwillingness to try new technology?

Helping Mom Overcome Her Reluctance to Use Technology

The resistance of some seniors to adopt new technologies has inspired a number of new pushes to help them become more tech-savvy.  A program called Cyber-Seniors, in which teens teach computer skills in a retirement community, became a well-reviewed documentary last spring.  Now, Cyber-Seniors is more than a film, it’s an International Campaign!

The goal of the ‘Cyber-Seniors – Connecting Generations’ campaign is to engage youth mentors in bridging the technology gap by empowering older adults to use technology to expand their social and physical worlds. Together they are building stronger communities and connecting generations. Find out more about the services Cyber-Seniors offers in your community, that may help your mother feel more comfortable with technology.


When Aging-in-Place is no Longer the Best Option


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.


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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