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Technology Long Distance
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 4)

Camera Controversy
The benefits of video monitoring are well-known, but the privacy issues that accompany such technology should be considered by the caregiver. On the “Aging in Place Technology Watch” blog, author Laurie Orlov debates this topic in an article entitled” Web cameras and the elderly—whose right is it to decide?”

The discussion revolves around a loved one’s right to privacy, even if the camera presence offers reassurance for a caregiver. “Assuming anyone is paying attention to these images as they’re streamed, or reviewing them if they’re aggregated on a server, this feels like a boundary has been crossed in the name of ‘preserving’ a parent’s right to remain in their home of choice,” she writes. “The right to stay, apparently, is not the right to be left alone.”

Motion sensors, which monitor a person’s movement, or alert an incoming party, Orlov argues, as well as code alert pendants, may be enough surveillance for a caregiver to feel confident and a loved one to be safe. A variety of opinions exist on the pros and cons of these surveillance products, but the best approach is to ask a loved one what amount of monitoring they feel is appropriate. If they don’t like being part of the “Big Brother” effect, around-the-clock video may not be for them.

On the Web
Many seniors today have loved ones communicating via the Internet, but are unsure themselves how to navigate and perhaps feel overwhelmed by the technology. This often leaves them left out of daily conversations taking place within their family.

A newer offering on the market today is called simple email, which a variety of companies have found a large customer base for. This technology allows anyone unfamiliar with computers to use the Internet immediately and easily.

In many of the systems, a caregiver must install software, which then transforms the computer background into a “point and click” simple access system. A senior may see tabs for photos, email, news, and more topics that are easy to view, with no Internet browsing or downloading necessary. Caregivers and other friends or family can send digital images or letters to their loved one, offering a bit of comfort and companionship from miles away.

Other products don’t even involve a computer, but a fax machine, or specially designed device that offers wireless communication. Companies have also developed senior communication services which use an existing phone line to send and receive messages.

One such service says it’s a great way to send a loved one appointment or medication reminders, to-do lists, and other notes such as “remember to change clothes” or “take a bath this evening.” In addition, these technologies are offering a way for grandchildren, who communicate only through digital means, an excuse-free way to reconnect.

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