Technology for Seniors


Innovative software relieves the burden of looking after elderly parents.

Many owner-managers in their thirties and forties or even older not only have to run their businesses but also have to look after growing children as well as aging parents. These owner-managers are part of the so-called “sandwich generation,” trying to be successful business people but also caught between two levels of family responsibility. First, they have to cope with the physical and mental exhaustion of the job, then take on the responsibilities of caring for parents who might have reached the “critical-needs” point in their lives. Add to that the potential high costs associated especially with seniors’ residences and the time-consuming responsibilities of being power of attorney and it is little wonder the sandwich generation is looking for help. There are, of course, marginally beneficial tax breaks and social programs that assist, but these cannot meet the 24/7 on-call requirements needed by a concerned child of elderly parents.

New Software Available

Innovative software is now providing the means for many seniors to monitor their own activities without making a telephone call to their adult children. Most of these innovations require the seniors to have a properly installed computer or device with access to the Internet. An unlimited Internet service will avoid surprise overage charges.

An abundance of health-tracking software and apps are available to monitor their health, remind them of medications, and even track their nutritional needs. Setting up an easy-to-follow, step-by-step repetitive regime makes them more aware of their health needs and provides an easy tool to permit them to take charge of their own wellness. Caregivers can also use the program to determine whether the parent is following the program or medication set out by health providers.

New software can dispense medication and monitor its use.

Medication Management Software

Medication management systems can remind the user, dispense the medication and alert you, the caregiver, whether medications are being properly administered. The program can be set up to be accessed remotely by the adult caregiver. The base unit is installed in the senior’s home and can dispense medication at the proper dosage. Medication is inserted by the caregiver or a pharmacist into the cartridge. As many as 13 medications can be dispensed either singularly or in multiple doses. Within each cartridge is a memory chip that permits the pharmacist to access and enter each customer’s medical information when the label is generated. At the predetermined time, the medication is dropped into a cup for the individual to take. The system alerts the caregiver so the caregiver can phone the senior to make sure the medication has been taken. As well as dispensing medication, the system records information on compliance (i.e., how much of each medication is left). This information is accessible by the caregiver through a secure Internet connection.

Monitoring Devices

Smartphones combine the ability to chat back and forth and even face to face through Skype or Facetime so that you can more readily determine their physical state. Apps are also available that monitor the senior’s movements and enable you to know where they are at any time. Indeed, you can set geographic boundaries within which you feel the senior should travel, which can be tracked with an on-screen map. Software can be programmed to email you when they exit the area and when they return. Similar systems exist that allow monitoring of text messages and telephone calls to determine whether the senior is being “scammed” by a con-artist. It goes without saying that it would be wise to seek consent before installing such a procedure.

In cases of extreme dementia, monitoring with a smart phone may not work if the individual does not remember to carry the device with them. There are GPS trackers that are embedded in wrist bands, watches or devices that attach to clothing. The latest device embeds a tracker in the shoe that allows you to set the perimeters of travel so that the individual can be tracked once the perimeter is breached.

Medical Alert Systems

Medical alert systems enable elders to live within their own environment knowing that at the push of a button, an operator will respond. These systems are relatively inexpensive, from $28 to $33 per month. Live, two-way communication is provided through “emergency buttons” that can be worn on a belt, as a pendant or on a wrist band. The more sophisticated systems are equipped with waterproof sensors that can detect when an individual may have fallen. If the senior is unable to respond to the call-centre enquiry, the call-centre can immediately cont

Living at Home in Old Age

The insertion of unobtrusive and easy-to-use technology into seniors’ regular patterns of daily life allows the sandwich generation to softly interact with the senior(s) in their life while constantly monitoring the elders’ degree of need. The instant feedback provides the caregiver with the ability to make decisions to assist a senior who may not remember appointments, bills to pay, medication to take, or even the date of your next visit. Because time and financial resources available from caregivers are limited, any technology that extends an elder’s ability to stay within their home and live a happier life not only alleviates their anxiety about leaving the neighbourhood but allows caregivers to monitor and participate in the lives of elderly loved ones without always being on their doorstep.


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Disclaimer: BUSINESS MATTERS deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.
Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this letter, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
BUSINESS MATTERS is prepared bimonthly by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada for the clients of its members.
Richard Fulcher, CPA, CA – Author; Patricia Adamson, M.A., M.I.St. – CPA Canada Editor.
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