PRIME MAGAZINE — 05 March 2021
Tech tools help older adults age in place

By Robyn A. Friedman

City & Shore PRIME

In April 2020, 64-year-old David Ratcliff fell and couldn’t get up. After his sister, Susan Daigle, couldn’t reach him, she drove to his home and found him on the floor. That’s when Daigle and her sister, April Billups, began researching technology that would help all of them stay connected.

Fiercely independent – but with significant health issues – Ratcliff isn’t easy to reach. He doesn’t always carry his cell phone and often forgets to charge it. But Daigle and Billups no longer have to worry because they signed up for CarePredict @Home, a service that allows them to monitor their brother remotely.

“We wanted to know that he is doing all right and have the means to reach him easily during an emergency,” Daigle says. “David appreciates CarePredict @Home because it is non-intrusive, unlike cameras, and provides him with the peace of mind that he can reach us at any time with a simple press of the button.”

The sisters can now keep track of their brother’s activities, location, heart rate, blood oxygen level and indoor temperature. And it provides an easy way for him to obtain help if he needs it. Ratcliff wears a small device on his wrist that has sensors that learn and track his daily activities, detect falls and provide insights into where he is spending time. It will also alert caregivers to emergencies like falls. The device costs $450; a monthly subscription for a single person normally costs $70, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, CarePredict is currently offering the monthly subscription for free.

“This is a peace-giving tool,” Daigle says. “If you are far away from the loved one you are providing care to, and are constantly worrying about how they are doing, CarePredict @Home is the solution.”

According to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, the average monthly cost for independent living in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $3,410 and for assisted living, $5,108. That’s unaffordable for many older adults. Plus, more importantly, the vast majority of older adults don’t want to move to so-called senior housing; they want to age in place. According to AARP, nearly 80 percent of people over age 50 want to stay in their home as they age, while nearly half of adults 50 and older say they will never move.

Luckily, technology exists that serves as a vital link enabling caregivers to remotely monitor their loved ones. CarePredict, which was started in 2013 and is based in Plantation, is one example, but there are many similar systems, such as Caregiver Smart Solutions, which uses sensors, machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide remote caregivers with information on their loved ones’ eating and sleeping habits, whether they’re using the bathroom, their activity level and more. The system is camera-free, non-invasive and can be self-installed. Prices start at $499 for a 14-piece kit with a variety of sensors and a “smart hub,” plus a $49 monthly subscription.

 

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