Home Care Goes High-Tech

Here are some high-tech products that might one day allow seniors to age gracefully at home. Some are currently available while others are in the design state.

LIFELEDGERThis product was developed for caregivers and patients struggling through the early days of providing care for a loved one. At this stage, solid caregiving information is important, but where does one get it? LifeLedger is an interactive website that contains all the relevant data, information and resources a new caregiver may need all in one central location. It also stores information such as the patient’s physical condition, medications, contact information, names of family doctor and caregivers. Go to http://agingwiselypro.lifeledger.com

REACH Those with mobility issues often have trouble controlling all the on-off switches in their environment. REACH allows patients to control a number of tasks from a central touch screen. Patients can simply touch a button on the screen to control lights, open and shut doors and blinds, make telephone calls, turn on and off television or stereo, control a bed – even open the door to visitors. Go to www.breakboundaries.com

MEDREADY PILL DISPENSER This dispenser is designed for those with complex drug regimens or who have problems remembering to take their medication. The pharmacist or caregiver loads the dispenser with the patient’s medication and then sets the alarm, which beeps when it’s time to take a pill. The patient slides open the medication door, removes the dosage and closes the door. When it closes, the alarm shuts off, and the tray rotates to the next dose. Go to www.safehomeproducts.com

CARECOMPANION The CareCompanion attempts to provide some nursing tasks – without the nurse. A touch screen component, which can sit on a night table, prompts a patient to take medication. It also asks health-related questions, answered by pressing buttons on the screen. Patients can enter their blood pressure, heart rate or blood sugar levels. All of this information is sent by telephone line to a central server. If the patient’s blood pressure is too high or they forget to take medication, the server will immediately notify a caregiver who can then react accordingly. Go to www.amdtelehealth.com

LIFESHIRT This shirt can be used by for patients with heart or breathing difficulties. Machine-washable, the shirt has built-in sensors, which collect pulmonary, cardiac, posture and activity signals while the person goes about his or her daily activities. Devices that measure blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, EEG, and body temperature can be integrated with the shirt’s sensors. The data is stored in an electronic diary, which can be sent or downloaded to a physician’s or caregiver’s computer. Go to http://www.vivometrics.com/site/press_pr20061114.html

INTELLIGENT WHEELCHAIR Currently in the design stage, its creators hope this Canadian-designed wheelchair will allow elderly disabled patients to get about without assistance. Using artificial intelligence and infrared sensors, the intelligent wheelchair will be able to navigate dwelling spaces without bumping into objects and be able to squeeze through narrow hallways and doorways. The wheelchair will gradually “know” all the locations in the home and be able to go directly there when commanded by the user. Go to http://www.aai.ca/robots/tao_7.html