People suffering from the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s, dementia and other mental-related conditions need an incredible amount of care and attention just to function every day. According to one recent study, however, unpaid caregivers are actually providing about 80 percent of that care on a long-term basis in the United States. This means that even though there are solutions like home health care providers or nursing homes out there, a lot of people aren’t using them for whatever reason.
GPS Tracking Technology

Sometimes, elderly individuals still wish to remain in their home to preserve as much of their dignity as they possibly can. Other times, they simply cannot afford these opportunities, as the cost of healthcare in the country is only getting higher all the time. But regardless of the reason, these patients often have to turn to the same source to get the assistance they need: Their friends, family members and other loved ones.

That same study revealed that in South Carolina alone, 770,000 unpaid family caregivers provide about 737 million worth of “free services” every single year. If you replaced those family members with paid professionals making just $10.04 per hour, the cost would be an enormous $7.4 billion. That’s just one state for one year. If you open that up to the entire country, the costs are truly staggering.
Who Is Caring for the Caregivers?

Thankfully, modern technology has reached the point where it can effectively (and affordably) provide some degree of assistance for older adults and the family members who care for them. One of the most common risks to someone with a mental condition staying in their own home has to do with falling down — something a staggering number of people in this situation do every year. Oftentimes, when an older person falls, it can trigger a ripple effect in the worst possible way — causing health conditions that only get worse over time until too much damage has been done to adequately recover from.

Wearable technology can help address this gap, however — particularly if an elderly person is left alone for a period of time for whatever reason. Apple’s new Apple Watch Series, which was introduced in 2018, for example, includes fall-detection technology that can automatically alert medical professionals if someone happens to fall. While the technology is still new, it’s been proven to be effective a large amount of the time. For family caregivers, the peace-of-mind alone is more than worth the few hundred dollars’ asking price.

Another major risk to people who remain in their own homes has to do with wandering away and getting lost. Many times, someone with dementia will leave their home to take a walk and quickly forget where they’re going or where they came from. This can leave them in an incredibly vulnerable state, and their caregivers have absolutely no idea where they are.

With GPS tracking technology (and devices like the aforementioned Apple Watch or other smartwatches), this risk can be mitigated as well. At any given moment, a caregiver can log in to an app on their phone or a specific website and see a real-time feed outlining their loved one’s whereabouts. Even if they ever do get lost, they can be located quickly and returned home safe and sound. Many companies even make GPS trackers especially for vulnerable adults and young children that are intended to be as unobtrusive as possible. Your elderly adult won’t take it off because they likely won’t even realize it’s there in the first place.

These are just a few of the key examples of how modern technology is rising to this most unfortunate of challenges, providing assistance to family caregivers who themselves are dedicating their lives to doing right by those in need. Technology has not made this an easy job or any less of a thankless one, but it has made it more effective in a relatively short amount of time. As the number of adults who fall into this category is only going to increase as time goes on, it makes one eager to think about some of the other advancements that are just over the horizon, waiting to make their debut.