In Elder Law News

Senior couple uses smartphone to control lighting with smart home technology.Advances in self-monitoring medical devices, telehealth, and smart homes are allowing many aging Americans to remain at home longer and more safely. You may be a senior looking to stay in your current residence rather than move to a nursing home. Or perhaps you have an aging parent and want to implement systems that create better safety and communication. In either case, an elder law attorney can help you craft a plan.

Strategies to Consider

Get Legal Documents in Order

You may already be aware that elder law attorneys can assist older adults in creating legal documents, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, that are an important part of any estate plan. These and other documents can authorize a trusted loved one to make decisions about an older adult’s medical treatment, including their use of at-home medical technology. Some states now legally recognize e-signatures, so you may be able to meet virtually with an elder law attorney.

See If Medicaid Can Help

Medicaid is a government health insurance program for individuals with limited resources. This program may pay for certain at-home medical technology if it’s deemed medically necessary. An elder law attorney can help older adults navigate the application process. They also can help ensure the senior receives all the benefits for which they qualify.

If you’re having issues understanding the application process, selecting a home care agency, or finding an elder care provider, an attorney can walk you through your potential Medicaid options.

Engage in Long-Term Care Planning

At-home medical technology may help seniors age in place and maintain their independence for as long as possible. Integrating at-home medical technology into long-term care planning may include the following:

  • Monitoring Health. Certain types of technology can track vital signs and send alerts to caregivers if there are any concerns. These include such as wearable devices and remote monitoring systems.
  • Medication Management. Personal emergency response systems (PERS) and smart home devices can ensure that older adults are safe and can call for help if needed.
  • Mobility Aids. Smart home devices including stairlifts can help seniors with mobility issues move around their homes more easily. Related smart home devices may offer them better control of the locks, lighting, and temperature in their environment.
  • Social Engagement. Virtual reality, video conferencing, and social networks can connect older adults with loved ones. Socializing with others can aid in combating isolation and feelings of loneliness.
  • Care Coordination. Medical technology can connect older adults with care providers and health care professionals as well. Doctors, nurses, and social workers can assist in monitoring the care and support they receive at home via telehealth services, for example.

In-home medical technology is a more affordable option than expensive institutional care. When planning for long-term care, consider how technology can help your loved one maintain their independence and quality of life.

Learn About Guardianship If Necessary

In some cases, older adults may be unable to make decisions about their medical treatment or use of at-home medical technology because of cognitive decline or other health issues. Elder law attorneys can assist in appointing a guardian or conservator to make these decisions on behalf of your loved one.

How to Get Your Loved One Started

Getting seniors to use at-home medical technology can be challenging. Several strategies may help make the process easier:

  1. Keep it simple by starting with the basics. Then gradually introduce more advanced features as your loved one becomes more comfortable with the technology.
  2. Make sure the senior understands the benefits of the technology. Explain how it will help them stay healthy and independent and make their life easier.
  3. Demonstrate how to use the technology. Walk your loved one through the setup and use of each device so that you can make sure they know how to operate it.
  4. Provide your loved one with a user manual or guide for reference.
  5. Schedule regular check-ins with your loved one to see how they are doing with the technology. Answer any questions and ensure their communications with medical professionals are timely and accurate.
  6. Provide your loved one with technical assistance while visiting and have them contact you if they experience technical issues. Everyone needs reliable IT support.
  7. Look for local support groups and online communities so your loved one can connect with others using similar technology.
  8. Your loved one may be having difficulty using the technology. Consider hiring a professional to help with device setup, training, and guidance.
  9. Encourage your loved one to engage in a trial period with each new technology and see how they feel about it. If they don’t use or are uncomfortable with that particular technology, there might be better solutions.

Smart Technology for Senior Homes

Many providers make smart home technology for aging adults. The best options depend on the specific needs and preferences of the older adult. Keep in mind that technology needs will change as your loved one ages and faces other potential health challenges. You may also want to consider whether their existing technology and devices will be compatible with any new devices.

Technology alone is not a solution. Family members, friends, lawyers, and health care providers must coordinate efforts in the senior’s best interest.

Whether you need to plan for future at-home health care or already require care management via remote health monitoring, smart home technology can make senior care more patient-centric, personal, and accessible. Talk with an elder law attorney near you to see what senior technology strategies can benefit you or your loved one.

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