The latest Canadian census data from 2021 shows seniors over the age of 85 are among the fastest growing age groups in the country. The number of people over 85 more than doubled since the 2001 census, and is expected to triple by 2046. This will put increased pressure on Canada’s healthcare and long term care systems, and the already shrinking pool of caregivers.
What alternatives are there available?
The following blog was written by Barbara Kirby, (CPCA) Certified Professional Consultant on Aging, Coach and Navigator of SeniorAdvocate.ca on successfully using an alternative support system for seniors aging in their own homes
Alternative Support System for Seniors Aging in their own Homes
By Barbara Kirby
At the beginning of the Corona Virus pandemic in early 2020, I started receiving calls from seniors and their families asking how they could stay home safely rather than moving into assisted living or long-term care?
What immediately came to mind is one of my favorite tools to support the elderly living at home independently, a motion censored monitoring system app. This is an app that gives adult children the opportunity to check if their parents are ok at any time of the day, or night giving them immediate peace of mind. At the same time, it provides a sense of autonomy for seniors who might be somewhat vulnerable to the risks of living alone.
The company, Tochtech Technologies, is a Vancouver-based digital health company using combinations of motion sensor technology, voice integration, and AI. They provide solutions to enable seniors to maintain independence at home while offering families, caregivers, or executive managers like me peace of mind. Every morning I check to ensure my client is following their usual routine. Please note that this does not take the place of caregiver/companion support but may enhance how support is coordinated.
Tochtech’s Vericare platform uses motion sensors and AI to track a broad range of my client’s Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), showering, meal preparation, activities around the home, and social interactions. This helps develop an activity and behavior profile unique to my client. Notifications and alerts sent to my cell phone allow me to check for potential falls, the front door being left open, or unusual amounts of time showing no movement in one place, such as the kitchen, living room, bedroom, or bathroom.
Toch Sleepsense can alert us to movements in and out of bed, unusual or undetected heartbeats, or changes in breathing and sleep quality.
Toch Smarturns™ – intelligent knobs for the stove are another tool used. This eliminates the worry of the stove being left unattended for longer than usual, as you will receive an alert. You can make a quick call to mom or dad to ask them to check that the stove is turned off if they are finished using it. This ensures safe cooking. Or you can leave your voice message on the TochTech voice activated system. “Hi Mom, make sure the stove is turned off.”
Reports can show changes in daily or weekly routines as leading indicators when keeping an eye out for an elder’s wellbeing. The charting will indicate more sedentary behaviour over a week or month , alerting you to consider hiring a walking companion. Food is still in the fridge from a week ago; you can see this was not just lack of interest in a particular food, but they are not opening the fridge. Is it time to call in a companion to help with meals?
Vericare has been extremely helpful for me as I witnessed one client’s nighttime habits change suddenly, getting out of bed multiple times at night, moving in and out of the bathroom and wandering in her home. This helped confirm what we suspected as her demeanor started to change as well, becoming uncharacteristically confrontational. She was showing signs of a possible urinary tract infection, now we could get her tested and on to medication if needed.
I had another situation where the system indicated a client had gone into her living room, an unusual place for her to be at that time of the day. There was no movement for over an hour, and I received an alert. I had the neighbour run over and she found my client on the floor, not hurt but unable to get up. We called the paramedics for a lift assist. She wears a fall alert fob around her neck but doesn’t like to push the button as she would rather try to get herself up. This was a soft fall, having sat on a low foot stool to light the fire. She had not been successful at getting up, and the fall was not picked up by the fob to alert paramedics. This happened about 2pm and as I was arriving at 6pm she would have remained on the floor the entire time and she may have been hurt.
Vericare has helped in unusual ways a well. The humidity monitor would indicate when the client was having a shower, this was coming on more often than the twice a week my client was showering. We discovered that every time the laundry was done there would be and excessive amount of humidity in the bathroom as if someone were showering. We had to replace the vent and fan and remind the caregivers to turn on the additional fan in the laundry room to prevent further moisture collection and damage to the fan in the bathroom.
My clients say they appreciate the security of the Vericare System, which in turn enables them to remain in their homes longer and gives families and managers such as myself peace of mind. There are no cameras or microphones; all you need is a good Wi-Fi connection. I was surprised at the reasonable costs for the Tochtech system. Go to SeniorsAdvocate.CA for a unique discount code on any Tochtech Products.
….with care, integrity, and heart in mind for you.
Barbara J. Kirby, (CPCA) Certified Professional Consultant on Aging, Coach and Navigator 604-767-4994
Disclosure: SeniorAdvocate.CA may receive payment from time to time when these products are purchased through this website. Any proceeds go to cover the costs of providing free consults for low-income seniors and their families.