The Best Senior Monitoring Systems To Keep Your Senior Safe

The Best Senior Monitoring Systems To Keep Your Senior Safe

The Best Senior Monitoring Systems To Keep Your Senior Safe

Many older adults want to maintain their independence as long as possible. Still, family members often worry about their safety since seniors are generally at risk for falls and have chronic health conditions.

Fortunately, in-home monitoring systems designed for older adults can lessen the worries of family members, caregivers, and seniors. These systems have sensors, alarms, and communication devices that can keep track of everything—from older adults’ sleeping patterns to detecting when they have fallen or are about to fall.

Nearly 56 million people aged 65 and older live in the United States, and about 27 percent lived alone in 2021, according to statistics from the Administration for Community Living (ACL). With the older adult population expected to grow to 22 percent by 2040, many seniors are looking for options to help them age in place in their homes. Home monitoring systems are part of a growing industry that is focusing on finding cost-effective solutions to enhance the health and safety of seniors.

Dr. Ankur Patel, chief medical officer for Tabula Rasa HealthCare in Moorestown, New Jersey, told Forbes Health that in-home monitoring systems for older adults usually fall into three categories: Wellness devices, Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), and Telehealth, also known as telemedicine.

1. Wellness Devices

Wellness devices monitor an individual’s daily activity and collect health data, sleep patterns, and heart health. These devices include a fitness tracker, a pedometer, a smartwatch, or a sports watch, all of which can monitor the number of steps a person takes each day.

Studies have found that using wearable wellness devices that track movement can increase a person’s daily steps by more than a mile, especially for those who have established a heart-smart daily goal.

“Fitness trackers are a great tool for heart health,” Dr. Seth Martin, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, said in an interview for the John Hopkins Medicine Health page. “Being more active and changing your habits is important, but it can be difficult. Tracking likely helps many people when combined with a clear goal to shoot for.”

According to Martin, keeping an objective daily log might help people realize how little exercise they’re getting, which may inspire them to set aside more time for exercising.

“It gives people information and empowers them to start making changes for heart health,” Martin said. “And often, their activity level was not something they were paying attention to before they started tracking.”

2. PERS

PERS, which includes medical alert systems and dementia-related monitoring devices, uses cameras or motion detectors to monitor older adults inside and outside of the home.

Medical alert systems are popular among seniors because of the wearable devices like pendants, bracelets, or smartwatches, that are connected to a 24/7 monitoring system. So, when older adults fall or have some other type of emergency, they can push a button on the wearable device to contact an emergency response service or a monitoring center representative. After confirming that the older adult needs help, the responder alerts family members, medical personnel, or a caregiver.

Some medical alert systems can monitor the location of individuals through a Global Positioning System (GPS), which makes it easier to track where older adults have fallen.

Systems with GPS can also help people in the early and early-middle stages of dementia who tend to wander and become lost. The individual can press the button on the wearable device, and the operator will locate the caller and use information in the system to give directions to get home safely, according to Dementia Care Central.

Dementia Care Central added that these systems also have emergency alert technology for people in the middle-late and later stages of dementia. The systems allow family members or caregivers to set a “home area” for places that older adults visit. A notification goes out when they leave the area, and GPS tracks their location.

3. Telehealth

Telehealth allows healthcare providers to visit their patients online by using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. The use of telehealth increased when older adults could not visit their doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Older adults, however, need to have access to these electronic devices to communicate with doctors.

Doctors can also monitor their patients remotely via their patients’ wearable devices. The devices can measure and transmit real-time health data, such as heart rate and blood pressure, from patients at home to their healthcare providers, according to Dr. Patel.

Which Monitoring Systems Are Best?

Generally, the best in-home monitoring systems are easy to install, easy to use, and include a two-way speaker option, a waterproof wearable, and fall detection technology, Jennifer Conlan, a registered nurse and gerontologist based in North Carolina, told Forbes Health.

Conlan said it is also important to take into account:

  • The system’s range—the maximum distance a call button device can function from a base unit, for instance.
  • The way the device is worn, such as a wristband or necklace.
  • The battery life.
  • Whether the system includes cameras to see what’s going on in an older adult’s home if that type of monitoring is necessary.

Cost of In-home Monitoring Systems

Monitoring systems using a landline can be as low as $25 per month, but mobile-friendly or motion detector systems can cost as much as $100 per month, according to Forbes Health. Many monitoring systems are priced within that range.

Costs for monitoring systems can also differ based on activation fees, the equipment needed for a system, the type of plan selected, and monthly fees for add-on services. For example, fall detection is often an optional service that comes with an extra fee of $10 per month. In addition, portable systems that rely on cellular networks or GPS cost more than in-home systems connected to landlines.

Discounts for monitoring systems may be available for veterans or AARP members.

Does Insurance Cover Monitoring Systems?

Generally, Medicare does not cover monitoring systems because they are not considered “medically necessary” under Medicare’s Durable Medical Equipment guidelines. Private insurance typically does not cover in-home monitoring systems either. However, Dr. Patel said some Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans might cover PERS.

The Medicaid programs in some states offer Home and Community Based Services or 1915 waivers that might provide funding for PERS based on certain criteria, such as age, health, and income.

Health experts recommend older adults contact their insurance companies to find out more about coverage.

Source Links:

https://www.forbes.com/health/medical-alert-systems/elderly-monitoring-systems/#footnote_1
https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/Profile%20of%20OA/2021%20Profile%20of%20OA/2021ProfileOlderAmericans_508.pdf
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/could-a-fitness-tracker-boost-your-heart-health#
https://www.forbes.com/health/medical-alert-systems/how-do-medical-alert-systems-work/
https://www.dementiacarecentral.com/medical-alert/alzheimers

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