Taming the Tech: Navigating Technology and Ethics In Senior Care
By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.
In the age of COVID-19, the role of technology in supporting senior care has perhaps never been more important or apparent. Telemedicine is increasingly proving its power to ensure continuity and quality of care from the safety and security of the patients’ home.
But today’s technology is about far more than just protecting seniors and the vulnerable from potential exposure to the virus. Now, more than ever, technologies are being developed to optimize patient care and to support seniors who wish to age in place, living out their golden years independently at home.
As promising as these technologies may be, however, it’s not all roses and champagne. The reality is technology is developing so quickly that it can be hard to keep up, particularly from a moral and ethical perspective. We’re only just beginning to understand the implications of this tech invasion. It might prove to be a tremendous help but also a tremendous harm for some seniors.
Before we jump too quickly on the technology bandwagon when it comes to senior care, there are some ethical considerations we need to keep in mind.
Why It Matters
The simple fact is that today’s technologies are making it easier than ever for seniors to remain in their own homes without putting their health and safety at risk. Thanks to an array of new smart technologies, caregivers can remotely monitor their loved ones from secure portals that can be accessed on most any mobile device.
The devices allow caregivers to monitor the physical activity in the home through motion detectors, including the ability to identify potentially significant changes in activity patterns. Wearables can even remotely track users’ vital data, such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose, or sleep quality. Best of all, caregivers are able to receive immediate alerts when monitors detect an emergency, such as a fall or a medical issue.
Not only that, but caregivers can also use smart systems to emulate the kind of continuous care seniors would traditionally receive at an assisted living facility. They can monitor and remotely control the home’s temperatures, for example.
And, for seniors who are experiencing cognitive decline, caregivers can set up medication reminders — with the medication’s name and proper dosage — on their loved one’s smartphone, tablet, or PC. Since memory-related medication non-compliance is a particularly common, and particularly dangerous, health challenge for seniors, this may well be the key to your loved one’s health and longevity.