How innovation is helping loved ones in aged care

If you’ve ever gone through the experience of trying to decide whether a member of your family should enter aged care, you’ll agree that it isn’t always an easy decision.  Not to mention the costs and complex rules associated with it. Perhaps your loved one had to sell their home, use their super or lean on you for help to fund it, either way it isn’t cheap. It’s definitely something that makes you appreciate the value of retirement savings.
 
Reaching twilight years is a story of survival. It is a privilege many won’t get.  However, there’s still a large number of individuals that are in aged care every year in Australia. So, if you have an elderly family member, it’s worth considering how their aged care will be funded and what kind of experience they would like to have.  The good news is that the aged care industry is experiencing transformation through innovative technologies. These are all things that could significantly benefit the lives of loved ones in aged care across Australia. Some of the recent innovations in this space include:
 
In home care
An international study, ‘Blue Zones’ researched the world’s longest-living people. It found friendship as the key factor contributing to their longevity^. The ‘stress shedding’ power of friendship enhances the life of these people who live their full and long lives in their own homes and communities. On average, these men and women have a circle of five to six good friends who travel through life with them. Companies such as Five.Good.Friends deliver care with this in mind.  They provide help at home, when people need it, so they remain close to their good friends, their community and the life they know.
 
The use of apps
By combining the use of skilled, caring people and technology, families can have a far more efficient, transparent and flexible model of care tailored to their needs. They can contact carers directly and make changes as required.
 
Robotics
In late 2017 Micare introduced robotic trolleys.  These can handle meal delivery, linen collection and delivery, waste management and medical and housekeeping supplies.  The new technologies free up staff to do the most important part of their job which is the human, caring side.
 
Other technical innovations being developed include robots designed to capture and store information about a person who has dementia.  This information can be used to converse with the resident.  A robot won’t mind having the same conversation five times over, helping to build trust and calmness when family is not there.

Geo-locating
This technology is particularly useful for family members caring for someone with dementia.  These trackable technologies can set limits such as how far a loved one can wander and set alerts to keep you informed of their movements.
 
The community has an overwhelming desire to avoid ending up in a care facility.  A Macquarie University study reveals that each additional hour of service received per week in home is associated with a six per cent lower risk of entry into permanent residential care*.  Stitching together a cohesive model for managing all aspects of care is yet to be achieved.
 
As they say, money is power and putting some aside for this stage of life will put you in a good position to take up the best options available.


^Blue Zones
*Macquarie University



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