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Becoming the Older Generation / Part 2: Caring for the Caregivers

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reverse mortgage newsLast week we explored what it means to become the “older generation“, even when we don’t consider ourselves anywhere close to “old”.

For many people in midlife, the stage that precedes becoming the older generation entails caring for elderly parents or other loved ones. It’s a fairly invisible and often underappreciated role, yet the price tag for informal caregiving of U.S. elders by friends and relatives is a staggering $522 billion a year, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

If these unskilled family members were replaced with skilled nursing care, the cost would jump to $642 billion annually.

“Three out of five caregivers also are in the labor force. Working-age people under age 65 provide 22 billion of those 30 billion caregiving hours, and they often lose income due to reduced work hours,” reports the study. Not to mention losing sleep, quality of life and relationships, and often their own health.

Fortunately, technology has advanced to where e-assistance is viable, and may be a literal lifesaver for both seniors and their caregivers. Reverse mortgage specialists need to be aware of the trends in aging technology that can help seniors age in place with greater peace of mind and body, for both the seniors and those who provide care for them.

Consider these innovations:

  1. Home Is Where the Heartbeat Is

Imagine a wrist device, similar to a watch, that can authenticate someone’s identity via their heartbeat and automatically adjust the home’s lighting, room temperature and other parameters to suit the resident. Once sci-fi, heart-monitored houses are now within the realm of near-term possibility says Kevin Foreman, director of product vision at Vectorform, a technical innovation design company in Detroit.

  1. Superior Community Care via Technology

Retirees used to choose their golden years destination based on climate, recreation and family ties. While these criteria are still valid, seniors who need mild to moderate assistance might want to set their GPS for a place like this pioneering senior community in Texas, which provides technologically advanced Assisted Living and Memory Care.

Some of the age-tech The Legacy at Falcon Point offers:

  • Point of Care Solution (POCS): A mobile device delivering real time documentation, communication and accountability for caregivers;
  • Electronic Medication Administration Records (eMAR): Acloud-based technology that submits and fills prescriptions via hand-held bar scanners;
  • TeleHealth: Real-timevirtual physician intervention and patient care, which often eliminates the need for hospital admissions or even office visits;
  • 24/7 Discreet Monitoring Systems: Advanced motion sensor system records residents’ daily activity, “learning” behavior patterns and alerting caregivers to potentially urgent situations while reporting lifestyle patterns back to the medical community;
  • Senior Friendly Exercise Equipment: Equipment that encourages “social exercise” for large groups, personalizing strength training goals for each resident in order to maintain flexibility, reduce falls and stave off dementia;
  • Next Generation Nurse Call: Like the Star Trek Enterprise computer, the Legacy system not only responds to alerts initiated by the resident, it can also locate a resident anywhere in the community, at any time.
  • Senior Friendly Tablet Computers:Each resident receives a device so they can connect with friends and loved ones through video chat, messaging and photo sharing. A specialized interactive program offers new ways to keep residents engaged, mentally stimulated and entertained.
  1. Virtual Pet Companions

What if a senior loves pets but is no longer able to care for a live one? GeriJoy may be the solution: virtual care companions, akin to tech teddy bears for older adults who require assistance. GeriJoy is a little like Siri, except the animal avatars are animated by remote humans — trained caregivers who help monitor a senior from afar. Besides providing companionship, a GeriJoy virtual companion is able to alert the emergency contact person in the event of, say, a fall, or a change in behavior.

Bonuses: these “pets” are always clean, well behaved, never need to be walked, and speak English instead of “Meow” or “Woof”!

Websites devoted to caregiver support are flowering, such as Lotsa Helping Hands, which is designed to offer caregiver relief in one’s own community — similar to the idea of “play dates” at the other end of the life spectrum. A caregiver registers on the site, and either requests help when it’s needed or offers relief caregiving to someone else in their community who’s also a member.

So even if your reverse mortgage clients are hale and hearty when they initially contact, you may wish to have this type of information available as a handout or email attachment. Because just as it’s wise not to leave financial planning until you really need the money, there’s no telling when the need for care may arise. If and when it does, family caregivers will want, and welcome, assistance.

 

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Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
 
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
 
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
 
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

Leave a Comment

6 Comments

  1. This last article about Caring for the Caregiver is one of your best ever. Really an excellent one with a lot of new information.

  2. Thanks, Dick! It’s always a pleasure to write for appreciative readers such as you.

  3. HI Amara, I agree with Dick. This is a great article for handout to associations that specialize in working with Seniors.

  4. Hi Joyce ~

    Your copies of Parts 1 and 2 are on the way. I hope your association finds the information as useful as you do. Thanks for being a loyal blog reader!

    Warmest,
    Amara

  5. Amara,

    This kind of information is extremely helpful and valuable.

  6. Thank you, James! I do my best to research leading edge information to serve our readers. If you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered, please email Shannon or me and we will be happy to follow up on your suggestion.


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