Smartphone Apps for ‘Aging in Place’
“Independent living,” “nonassisted living” or “aging in place” more or less mean the same thing: staying in your own home as long as you’re able, as opposed to moving to a health care environment.
Today, high-tech monitoring systems and other gadgets are helping seniors age in place, independently and comfortably, while giving their family greater peace of mind.
A growing number of downloadable software applications (“apps”) are available for use with smartphones and tablets. These apps can be used by those who are living independently or by caregivers as a means to remotely keep in touch, monitor and, if need be, assist those who need you.
Apps for iOS devices, such as the iPad, can help you keep track of loved ones.— CJG-Technology/Alamy
Here are a few apps to consider. Most of these are for use with the Apple iOS family of devices — namely, iPad, iPhone or iPod touch — but some of these (where indicated) are available for other platforms, too.
If a loved one has a computer with a webcam, the iCam app ($4.99; for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch) allows you to monitor multiple live video feeds over Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. With the person’s consent, you can check in, visually, to ensure he or she is doing well. You can also record and play back events, if need be, and set up the app to notify you when motion is detected (the free iCamSource PC or Mac software is required). For instance, you might place a webcam by the medicine cabinet or fridge (or both) so you’ll know when a loved one is taking his or her pills or eating a meal. On a related note, free video chatting apps such as Skype and FaceTime are also a great way to keep in touch.
Iconosys’s Tell My Geo is a smartphone application that can find or track, for instance, an Alzheimer’s patient. The cared-for’s smartphone can be set to send regular location updates (using GPS technology) to a loved one’s smartphone. Plus, the app has large emergency buttons to press, such as “Where Am I?” “Send Location” and “Call For Help.” This app (available in English or Spanish for Android devices) is free to download, but costs $9.95 per month for the monitoring. Registered users are mailed adhesive decals to place on the phone with information for emergency medical professionals. Tell My Geo also contains medical information, sort of like a digital med-alert bracelet, including medical conditions, allergies, blood type, and doctor and emergency contact info.
If your loved one doesn’t have a computer webcam, a more robust video monitoring solution — that works on virtually any smartphone or tablet — is SwannView, a free download that works with Swann Security’s all-in-one kit (model number DVR4-2600; $449). This package includes four color cameras (Swann’s PRO-580 model; each with 480 lines of resolution) and a 500-gigabyte digital video recorder (DVR) to record up to 30 days of video from all four cameras, simultaneously. SwannView works over Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity – on a BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Windows or Symbian device – so you can remotely log in to see a live, real-time view. These mountable all-weather cameras also have an infrared LED night vision feature that can see up to 65 feet in the dark. Similar to the above mentioned iCamSource software, you can also set up this kit to send you an email if the cameras detect motion.
One of the highest-rated personal health iPhone apps is Webahn’s Capzule PHR (99 cents), simple-to-use software that lets caregivers and patients organize health data in one place. You can input information ranging from blood pressure numbers and glucose or cholesterol levels to medication info, allergies, doctor appointment notifications and calendar alarms. The data can be viewed as text or as graphs (perhaps to share with your physician). The password-protected Capzule PHR lets you create monitoring templates based on specific needs, and transfer files to and from computers or other electronic devices. And you can easily back up the data via email, and print data and graphs.
A roundup of “aging in place” apps wouldn’t be complete without a glimpse into the near future. Sanofi-Aventis’s iBGStar Blood Glucose Meter will soon be the first blood glucose meter that connects to the bottom of the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to help manage diabetes. Plug the small reader into the device’s 30-pin connector, insert the test strip (no coding required) and within a second or two you can view and analyze your levels — and even send this information to your health care professional with the tap of a button. When the product is available (no word on price yet), you’ll also need to download the free iBGStar Diabetes Manager app, which will help you keep track of blood glucose, carbohydrate intake and insulin dose, and more. Those interested in the product can view a number of videos at the company’s website.
by Marc Saltzman, Via aarp.org