Digital caregiving: Folding new tech into traditional safety measures

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/caregiver/news-for-caregivers/story/2019-11-27/digital-caregiving-fold-new-tech-into-traditional-safety-measures

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By LAUREN J. MAPP

A major component of the American Dream is to buy a house that will become a forever home to raise a family and grow old in.

An AARP survey in 2018 found that 76 percent of adults over 50 would prefer to stay in their current home for as long as possible. The survey also found that only 46 percent of people thought they’d be able to do so. 

Melissa Dennison of Jewish Family Service said safety concerns are some of the main hindrances to older adults aging in place. Dennison is the coordinator for the organization’s Fix-It Service.

Falls in the home, for example, are a big problem. 

“If a person falls, they’ll be in the hospital for a while and they’ll be frightened to go back to their regular activities,” Dennison said. “Sometimes if they’re away from their social outlets — the centers where they go to play cards or games — they’ll lose their friends.”

According to the National Council for Aging Care, 80 percent of falls in the home happen in the bathroom. NCAC also reports that in general 30 to 50 percent of falls are caused by conditions like uneven surfaces, slippery floors and bad lighting. 

The Service’s Fix-It program can help seniors with a number of home safety modifications. The free program is available to adults who are 60 and older who live in central, eastern or southern San Diego County and have an identified caregiver. The number is (858) 637-3210.

Some of the installations JFS provides include grab bars in the bathroom, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, handheld shower heads and walkway lighting. For rental properties or spaces with fiberglass walls, non-invasive safety devices will be used instead of ones that need to be drilled into the walls, Dennison said. 

North County residents can get help from Interfaith Community Services by calling (760) 489-6380. 

A combination of traditional household safety fixtures and new smart technology might be key to helping people to remain in their homes as they get older. Here are some easy to use and install devices to incorporate into your safety plan at home. 

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