How can emergency alert systems improve health care in rural areas of Canada?
Patients in rural areas often have to travel long distances to get the care they need.
This can be a big problem for older people, especially those who need specialized care. Plus, many seniors may live alone, and there is often no one around them when they need help the most.
Emergency alert systems are a game-changer in providing assistance that is just a button click away. Such devices improve the quality of life for seniors and keep them safe even when they live on their own or are located far from medical facilities.
Moreover, emergency alert systems reduce the anxiety caregivers and relatives can often experience due to the lack of support in low-resource rural environments. You always know what’s going on with your loved one and are certain they receive help as soon as possible.
How can technology enable medical information exchange for improved senior care?
While we all understand that data on seniors' mental state and physical activity can add up to the overall quality of healthcare, we're still adjusting to modern health technology. Yet, the faster we can integrate remote solutions into our senior relatives' lives, the higher the quality of help they will receive.
The remote monitoring solutions are designed to provide actionable data to caregivers, helping them prevent costly emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and more. There is a variety of digital services that help seniors stay healthy, including telephonic nurse advice, medication adherence, fall detection and prevention, safety alerts and activity tracking through wearables.
If you're currently discovering what tool options are out there, I'd recommend checking out the following ones:
Remote Nursing Advice - this can be a useful solution for seniors who want to stay connected to their doctor when they are away from home or travelling.
Fall Detection - alert systems help detect the fall and notify family members, caregivers or emergency services so they can take appropriate action quickly before serious injury occurs.
Medication Adherence - certain apps help seniors adhere to their medications by providing reminders via text message or phone call at scheduled times each day so they don't forget what time they need to take their medication or if they have already taken it that day.
Falls are a leading cause of unintentional injury and death among older Canadians.
As the population ages, this issue is becoming more significant.
Public Health Agency of Canada shared report data earlier this year stating that the absolute number of fall-related hospitalizations rose by 47% between 2008-2009 and 2019-2020.
Falls can range from a simple slip to a serious injury. Many falls result in moderate to severe injuries, and some can even be fatal.
If you're taking care of an older adult and fall prevention is important to them, there are some things you can engage them to do to reduce the risk:
Regular exercise. Exercise can help improve strength, balance and flexibility.
Reducing stress by practising relaxation techniques. Stress can make it harder for the body to respond quickly when you trip or slip on something, which increases the risk of falling.
Eating a healthy diet low in fat and salt and high in vitamins C and E (found in fruits and vegetables).
What are the risk factors we should consider when trying to prevent injuries among seniors?
When we talk about major injuries caused by falls, the need for surgery is often the most severe outcome for non-fatal cases in our minds.
While it is true, the post-surgery period is just as essential since it will define whether seniors will be able to adapt to their old ways of living or new habits. Now, what do we do to prevent the elderly from facing those challenging outcomes?
Of course, the most optimistic scenario we should aim to achieve is helping the elderly eliminate fall risks. Safe home renovation is the first step in that journey, as we need to minimize dangerous external factors surrounding seniors in their daily life. Simultaneously, we must take care of internal factors such as body frailty caused by limited physical activity or chronic health conditions.
Last but not least, the job of caregivers is to provide additional monitoring and emergency response tools to help seniors feel safe while not being supervised 24/7.
I highly recommend reading the material below to evaluate the consequences our older relatives may experience when ignoring any of the above factors.
50% of seniors miss out on the professional care they need, according to the Gerontological Society of America.
The reasons for such statistics can vary greatly from one community to another: some lack the financial means to request support, and others may face a lack of care workers in the area.
Either way, we should focus on the solutions that can help address the issue in the most time-efficient way. In this case, I believe it’s the technological support.
When designing a routine for older adults, you can start with simple solutions that can help organize the schedule and logistics of certain tasks like taking medications on time or ordering food.
Once all the basic needs are covered, think of how you can establish continuous and reliable support for a senior. In some cases, they can monitor their daily health performance on their own with a tool like a smartwatch. In other cases, it may be useful to find a solution that also enables direct connection with emergency services. It can be especially helpful for older adults who have conditions like dementia.
Truth be told, you couldn’t always be there to react in case of need. But what you can do is make sure a senior gets immediate help even when you’re not there.