As the older population continues aging, we are constantly trying to find new tools to help this population manage their lifestyle with more ease. Assistive technology is any service or tool that aids the aging population in performing their otherwise increasingly difficult or impossible daily activities. This technology ranges from a smartphone, to a walker to GPS tracker, many of which allow the individual to continue living independently or without care, while also allowing their loved ones to check on them.
Paying for Technology
As with any other medical assistance, insurance coverage is always a concern. Although there is no universal plan covering assistive technology for the aging population, some plans do cover a portion of the costs. Medicare Part B will cover up to 80% of the cost of technology that can be considered medical equipment. Also if you are eligible with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs for assistance, they will pay for a portion of the cost and will also help train those who are using the device.
Technology Outside Coverage of Medical Insurance
There are many tools accessible to not only caregivers but the aging population as well, that do not need to be submitted through insurance coverage and allow elders to ‘age in place’ and not have to leave their own home.
- Tracking technology: BeClose is an tracking technology that uses wireless sensors placed throughout the home in order to monitor a loved one’s daily routine using a private web page accessed only by those with specific permission, such as a caregiver. If the daily routine is interrupted, the elected caretaker will be alerted via phone or email. The GrandCare System performs similar services by also using wireless sensors throughout the residence to communicate with the individual and monitor their well being. If a medication is missed, a caregiver can alert the individual; the system also allows family to have access, and send messages and data to their loved one.
- Transportable Technology: As our technology tools become more advanced, they also become smaller and easier to manage. It was estimated that over 78% of Americans over the age of 65 have cell phones. Smartphones, tablets and e-readers make it easier to communicate with loved ones, due to their wireless capabilities that may be used for Skyping or FaceTiming, checking email or researching using the internet. Many adults feel more connected using video conferencing with family they do not get to see often.
- Health trackers such as fitness trackers, medication monitors and smartwatches allow an individual to monitor their health and wellbeing, keep track of when or if they took the proper medication, and can even serve as an emergency device in the event of an accident.