Older Adults, Technology & COVID-19
SOLUTIONS FOR SENIORS & CAREGIVERS
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown Americans into a new normal, in which people are ‘sheltering in place’ across the country. This forced and unnatural change in routine has caused social isolation which, arguably, is hardest on our elders. A recent New York Times piece recognized this, stating “Now, older people have been sternly warned to adopt the very practices that…can endanger their health.” The article touches upon a few helpful tech solutions for older loved ones who may be dealing with isolation. In reality, there are numerous under-utilized tech tools that can improve the lives of seniors and caregivers as they live under separate roofs from their loved ones.
One way that technology can help older adults1 is through telehealth, which can play a critical role in protecting the health of older people in their owns homes and in residential facilities. Connecting seniors with medical providers—from their residence—can be a lifesaver, especially when facing dangers related to the Corona virus. Companies like Teladoc and AmWell are examples that offer screening and video visits. Not surprisingly, AmWell reports that their traffic has increased significantly since the outbreak of COVID.
Curavi is a telemedicine solution that was designed for nursing home use, and they offer video evaluations to reduce unnecessary, and now potentially dangerous, hospitalizations.
There are a number of other home monitoring systems designed to keep an eye on older adults, including a west coast system called GrandCare. According to their information, services include sensors that can be placed in the residence, with the ability to track important data for loved ones and caregivers—including data about movement patterns (bed and chair sensors), medication usage (system reminders when it’s time to take pills), and more.
GrandPad is an example of a tablet designed with seniors in mind. The device helps users who may not be particularly tech-savvy communicate with loved ones and caregivers through calls, video, and text messaging.
OneClick.Chat is a tool that can mitigate social isolation by connecting older adults with younger family members and friends. Less complicated than other popular meeting apps, OneClick supports up to 12 members joining a video conversation with one click.
Finally, tech solutions that protect seniors’ financial health should not be overlooked. Financial abuse in later life is directly related to mortality. Fintech tools are especially important now, as virus-related fraud has escalated over 600% in recent weeks, according to American Banker.
True Link Financial, a prepaid debit card for seniors and/or other vulnerable individuals, can block certain vendors and purchases. SilverBills, an auto-bill management system, can help older adults who are living on their own pay bills accurately and on time. And EverSafe is a fraud-monitoring tool that analyzes financial accounts, credit cards, credit and real estate, serving as an extra set of eyes on parents’ financial health and well-being. Alerts for erratic activity are sent to members and designated others (e.g. adult child, POA)—across the miles.
These are just a few examples of the myriad tech solutions available that will keep families safer, physically and financially, as they shelter in place. Older adults and their caregivers can benefit from technology tools, and their importance during times like these cannot be overstated.
1 The following companies, other than EverSafe, are cited as examples and should not be viewed as endorsements. EverSafe makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of their websites and no warranties of any kind are implied or expressed.