Something else to share with you while I’m tip-toeing around the topic of “getting old“:
When my brother and I were both in college, and our poor Mom was running herself ragged taking care of her aging parents while working full-time, she kept making references to “the sandwich generation” — people caught between raising and supporting their children and caring for aging parents or other relatives. What a hectic life they lead. Now that I’m a mother myself and I see our parents, aunts and uncles aging, it occurs to me that with life expectancy on the rise, ALL generations going forward will be “sandwiched.” So if you aren’t there already, brace yourself.
The Health 2.0 movement — Web 2.0 tools designed for healthcare applications — has not missed this juncture either. A number of new sites are geared at helping people find and/or monitor caregivers for elderly parents and relatives, or ensuring their safety.
See this iHealthBeat roundup, featuring:
QuietCare – a home health alarm system from ADT Security Services that uses sensors to track the activities of older people around their homes. Operators at a 24-hour call center are trained to help the elderly in emergencies.
iCare Health Monitoring – a remote-control monitoring device (the Health Buddy®) for blood pressure, lung function, medication dosing and other parameters, backed by a full-service Health Monitoring Center staffed with health professionals.
SeniorSafe@Home – a system using motion sensors, electronic medication dispensers, and fall detectors that will be monitored by nurses at a call center. This one still appears to be in beta.
There’s also ElderCare Online, an online community for people caring for aging loved ones, including a forum, bookstore, and online support groups.
SeniorJournal.com, which offers an Eldercare Locator search tool with Spanish-speaking specialists on duty weekdays from 9am to 8pm.
For diabetics in particular (not just the older ones!), there’s DiabetesResponse.com — a new service that places safety calls to diabetics who live alone and suffer from seizures. Live operators are on duty 24/7 to alert 911 if the contacts don’t respond.
One of the best new eldercare tools of the bunch appears to be Enurgi, which I mentioned briefly in a recent Health 2.0 roundup here. More than a matchmaking site, Enurgi calls itself a “care management portal” that allows families to not only find and evaluate licensed caregivers, but also manage background checks, caregivers’ work schedules. and even payments (via PayPal direct deposit). So if you’re in New York, for example, and Mom and Dad are in Florida, you can use the Enurgi dashboard to interact with their caregiver, and manage the whole employment process.
What makes this web tool a true “Health 2.0″ application is that it “disrupts” the whole caregiver market, according to CEO Chiara Bell.
“Most caregivers just work for agencies because they can’t find patients on their own. They end up getting just $8 or $9 an hour after the agency takes its cut. But with a tool like Enurgi, they can connect and work directly with the clients, and can make more like $15/hr, plus it also saves families the money they’d spend on agency fees.”
Chiara also highlights the fact that if problems arise with a caregiver, agencies typically just move that caregiver to another family — without the new family’s knowledge that this person had troubles in the past. Enurgi offers a public profile of each caregiver, noting their past positions and allowing clients to rate them (of course with built-in security checks and comment moderation to avoid any nastiness). Full disclosure: Chiara recently gave me a little “walk-through demo” of the Enurgi site, and I was quite impressed.
For a visual taste of all these edlercare/home monitoring technologies, watch the Wall St. Journal video via MedGadget HERE.
Oh, and don’t be fooled into thinking the elderly themselves don’t “get” new technology. I hear they’re even getting addicted to the Nintendo Wii!