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Technology Long Distance
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 4)

Home Health Monitoring
The social aspect of a long-distance caregiving relationship is very important, but for the senior population, just as vital as their medical care. Technological advances are offering caregivers a way to keep abreast of their loved oneís medical status from miles away. In the past few years, the number of products on the market has exploded, and because the technology is more common, the cost has decreased. divides the home health products into three categories. The first is vital signs monitoring devices. A tabletop monitor can be used with either a land-line phone, or cable Internet connection, and measures vitals such as temperature, pulse, blood sugar, weight, EKG, etc. The device even alerts a loved one to the need to perform a daily vitals check.

Once the data is collected, it is electronically submitted to a center staffed with medical personnel, and a summary is posted on a private Web site, which caregivers have access to. When a cause for concern arises, the appropriate action is taken, from scheduling a physicianís appointment to calling for immediate assistance. The vitalsí monitors are not available for sale to the public yet, but available through home health agencies, clinics and physicians.

The second category includes mobile vital sign monitors. These are established through a cell phone and monitor mainly heart function. The user wears a watch or other small device, which tracks heart rate and records the information just as with the home monitors. These monitors are not new to the market, but the ability to connect to a service center, which tracks the information, is.

The third category the Web site lists is reminder technologies. Most of these are for medication-taking. Whether the tool is a vibrating watch, timer, electronic pill dispenser, the options are plenty. Computerized pill bottles even track consumption, to protect from overdose and also alert a caregiver when supplies are low.

Whether for a loved one at home, or on the go, technology is available to keep an eye open for the long-distance caregiver. Just as every person is different, every loved one has unique health monitoring needs. Research the options, and design a system that works best.

Research in Full Swing
The University of Miamiís Center on Aging is developing solutions to facilitate even more advanced technology. CREATE, the Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement, is a multi-site center involving the University of Miami, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Pittsburgh, and Florida State University.

The centerís goal is to help older people adapt successfully to the information age and ensure that they receive the maximum benefits from existing and emerging technologies.

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