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Technology and Home Safety

Investing in a smart home, which contains seamlessly embedded sensors, could go a long way towards helping you remain independent while aging in place. Smart home technology includes appliances like smart stoves that automatically shut off- to sensors that control climate, detect fire and flooding, and check carbon dioxide/monoxide levels which can be especially important if you or your loved one living with PD has lost their smell.

Many smart homes contain motion sensors that automatically turn on lights. They can also alert caregivers if the resident has stopped moving for long periods. One of the benefits of smart sensors is that they can unobtrusively collect and process data as residents move around the home. In fact, some smart sensors can identify the progression of dementia by tracking the person's behavior and will alert care partners about any unusual behavior.

A system for comprehensively using this type of technology to help supplement physical caregiving is referred to as "remote activity monitoring." Incorporating many of the technologies mentioned below, these systems can remotely send alerts to a caregiver if certain conditions are met. For example, if wandering is a concern for someone with dementia who is living alone, the system could automatically alert a family member or caregiver if an exterior door opens during certain hours.

Emergency Response Systems

For many adults living alone with Parkinson's, a personal emergency response system (PERS) can be a lifeline, ensuring they get help in the event of a fall, slip, or other medical emergency. PERS which have been around for decades, come in the form of lightweight pendants or wristbands that you or your loved one can wear while going about your normal daily routine. With some units, you must press a button to contact emergency services, while other systems automatically activate when a fall is detected.

AARP also notes that technology has advanced so much that some systems include fitness trackers, movement sensors, and more. In either case, an operator at an emergency response center will respond, diagnosing the seriousness of the situation, and deciding whether to call an ambulance, or a designated caregiver to check on the person who has fallen.

If you buy a PERS. you'll have to pay an installation fee and a monthly monitoring charge. (Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance companies typically don't pay for the equipment, though you may be able to get a subsidy if your income is low.) For more information about PERS, search Best Medical Alert Systems online.

Disclaimer:  The Parkinson Association of Alabama stresses the importance of home safety by offering the following awareness and education. However, the PAA cannot be held liable for any falls within the home, or guarantee the endorsement of product brands or services as related to home safety.

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