I’ll admit it: I’m worried about my parents. I’m worried about how they will cope with the COVID-19 crisis that is disrupting the lives of everyone we know. But beyond the horizon of the immediate situation – which we will no doubt solve in time – I’m also concerned about the future care of our elderly citizens.
The demographic structure of our industrialised world is set to change dramatically over the next several decades. Many more seniors are healthier and more active both in professional life and in retirement, but at the same time, we will also see a significant increase in the requirements for elderly care.
On a societal level, this is an extremely complex issue that will require massive resources and the coordination of a wide range of health promotion initiatives. On a personal level, the question becomes quite simple: How can we best look after those for whom we care, but who can no longer care for themselves?
Keep Track, Keep Safe
In my previous blog post, I mentioned that when I tell people about the solutions we develop at Quuppa, their first response is almost always about how we could and should use real-time locating systems (RTLS) to improve the safety of our children. The very next comment is often something like, “That reminds me… I’ve been a bit worried about my 85-year-old father. He lives at an assisted living facility and his memory isn’t what it used to be. Last week the staff found him wandering around in the parking lot…”
Location saves lives at home, in hospitals and at care facilities. More specifically, it does so by enabling us to keep track of people that we care for, and to identify situations in which they may need assistance but might be unable to call for help. With RTLS solutions being deployed all around the world by many of our partner companies, this can be achieved without compromising privacy, data security or the flow of everyday life.
Location Becomes Healthcare
Along with high-precision and reliable indoor positioning, RTLS offers many other benefits for improving the care level for our elderly parents, relatives and significant others. The accuracy of Bluetooth®-based location systems can be customised from basic presence detection monitoring that alerts caregivers if grandma has accidentally wandered out of the building, to centimeter-level precision that enables the system to raise an alarm if the user, for example, falls or is seen to be immobile in an unusual location.
Moreover, location tags can be integrated with existing patient monitoring equipment such as pulse measurement, oximetry and blood pressure measurement devices. This allows caregivers to not only have peace of mind about the well-being of the people they are looking after, but also to gain access to real-time health data that can, with the appropriate tools and medical expertise, help anticipate the development of serious conditions such as heart attacks hours in advance. I would love to have this kind of capability available for my elderly relatives – and for myself.
Safeguarding the Future
Finally, RTLS in elderly care offers professional caregivers a powerful toolkit to ensure that they fulfill the increasingly demanding care standards that are being set by governments and regulatory bodies around the world.
Whether we are looking after someone in a professional capacity or simply as a loved one, real-time location can be one of the keys to living a life that is safer, healthier and provides more agency. In the end, we should perhaps pause for a moment and think about the kind of care we ourselves would like to receive when we are that much older and wiser than today. After all, time waits for no one, and the day will come sooner than we think.