Over the years the core purpose of our New York elder law estate planning attorneys has remained unchanged–helping residents pass on assets at death, avoid probate, save on estate taxes, and plan for disability. Yet, technology changes have influenced some ancillary aspects of the preparation and senior care process. For example, on the estate planning side, new web applications now claim to offer non-legal services to digitally store important passwords to be released upon death or to help a family set-up an online auction to distribute family heirlooms. Even New York elder care has been affected by online and web-based tools that seek to expand living options for area seniors.
Much of this new technology has centered on keeping seniors out of a nursing home. This is not surprising as an average stay in an area nursing home is around $120,000 a year, and the vast majority of residents would much prefer to live in their own home for as long as they can anyway. One of the main reasons why many seniors are forced to move into one of these facilities is the need for around the clock observation in case something happens while they are alone. For the last twenty-five years this at-home observation need was essentially filled by a single product–the Life Alert Emergency Response System. The company still dominates the market by providing seniors with a permanent connection to emergency help that they can access via a button on a lanyard worn around their wrist or neck.
Reuters recently discussed how the emergence of web-based systems on phones and tablets have dramatically increased the options available to provide extra security to at-home seniors beyond Life Alert. For example, some seniors are using the “Life360” phone application to immediately send a message and GPS coordinates to family members at the touch of a button on their phone. A more comprehensive service–Sonamba–utilizes a tablet (like an iPad) equipped with a webcam and motion sensors. The device sends signals to family members when a senior’s schedule seems irregular, gives medicine reminders, and allows the quick submission of messages.
Local residents interested in supplementing their New York elder care plan with emerging high-tech forms of aid have other options as well. Reflections Solutions offers a watch for seniors that monitors heart rate, temperature, and motion–automatically sending an alert when it suspects that a senior has fallen. Other monitoring companies even provide services to consolidate medical bills and records, set medicine reminders, and provide advisories for in-home care providers who visit the home.
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