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Technology in Senior Care and Elder Law: An Overview
As a result of technological advancements in self-monitoring medical devices, telehealth, and smart homes, many aging Americans are able to remain in their homes for longer and live more safely. Elder law and at-home medical technology use can intersect in several ways. Whether you are a senior looking to stay in your current home or have an aging parent and want to implement systems that create better safety and communication, an elder law attorney can help you craft a plan.
Elder law attorneys can assist older adults when creating legal documents, such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies, in an online environment. These and other legal documents are crucial to have in place as they authorize someone to make decisions about the older adult’s medical treatment and the use of at-home medical technology.
Meetings with your estate planning or elder law lawyer and family members can happen virtually, and some states now legally recognize e-signatures. Creating these documents without leaving your home benefits seniors with mobility and transportation issues and protects against exposure to infectious diseases.
Privacy and Security
Elder law attorneys can advise older adults on the privacy and security of their personal information and medical data when using at-home medical technology. Secure network communication protocols will keep hackers from stealing your information and ensure the data integrity of communications with medical professionals and entities.
Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income individuals, may pay for certain at-home medical technology if it’s deemed medically necessary. An elder law attorney can help older adults navigate the Medicaid eligibility process to ensure they receive all the benefits to which they are entitled.
Telehealth services allow Medicaid to reach more seniors at a lower cost than ever. Whether you’re having issues with eligibility, understanding home health services, or selecting home health providers, an elder law attorney can help you understand your Medicaid options.
Long-term care planning
Elder law attorneys can help older adults plan for future needs of long-term care, including using at-home medical technology to help them age in place and maintain their independence for as long as possible. Incorporating at-home medical technology into long-term care planning may include the following:
- Monitoring Health – Technology such as wearable devices, remote monitoring systems, and telehealth services can track vital signs and send alerts to caregivers if there are any concerns.
- Medication Management – Personal emergency response systems (PERS) and smart home devices can ensure that older adults are safe and can call for help if needed.
- Mobility Aids – Robotic exoskeletons, stairlifts, and smart home devices can help older adults with mobility issues move around their homes and control the environment (locks, lighting, temperature) more easily.
- Social Engagement – Virtual reality, video conferencing, and social networks can connect older adults with loved ones and socialize with others combating isolation and feelings of loneliness.
- Care Coordination – Medical technology can connect older adults with care providers and healthcare professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and social workers, to monitor the care and support they receive at home.
At-home medical technology is a more affordable option than expensive institutional care. When planning for long-term care, it’s important to consider how technology can help older adults maintain their independence and quality of life.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
In some cases, older adults may be unable to make decisions about their medical treatment or use of at-home medical technology due to cognitive decline or other health issues. Elder law attorneys can assist in appointing a guardian or conservator to make these decisions on behalf of their loved one.
An elder law attorney can help an aging adult, and their family understands what at-home medical technology is available and if government programs will pay for it. Getting seniors to use at-home medical technology can be challenging and generally falls under the direction of the family. There are several strategies to implement to make the process easier:
- Keep it simple by starting with the basics. Then gradually introduce more advanced features as your loved one becomes more comfortable with the technology.
- Make sure the senior understands the benefits of the technology. Explain how it will help them stay healthy and independent and make their life easier.
- Demonstrate how to use the technology. Walk your loved one through the setup and use of each device, making sure they know how to operate it.
- Provide your loved one with a user manual or guide for reference.
- Schedule regular check-ins with your loved one to see how they’re doing with the technology, answer any questions, and ensure their communications with medical professionals are timely and accurate.
- Provide your loved one with technical assistance while visiting, and have them contact you if they experience technical issues. Everyone needs reliable IT support.
- Look for local support groups and online communities so your loved one can connect with others using similar technology.
- If your loved one is having difficulty understanding or not using the technology, consider hiring a professional to help with device setup, training, and guidance.
- Encourage your loved one to engage in a trial period with each new technology and see how they feel about it. If they don’t use or are uncomfortable with that particular technology, there might be better solutions.
Many providers make smart home technology for aging adults. The best options depend on the specific needs and preferences of the older adult and compatibility with existing technology and devices. Technology needs will also change with additional health challenges that invariably occur when aging.
Elder law attorneys can recommend at-home technology so that an aging adult can safely live at home. Family members must participate in the installation of the technologies to ensure their loved one’s security and privacy. Technology alone is not a solution. A support system, including family, friends, lawyers, and healthcare providers, must coordinate efforts in the senior’s best interest.
Whether you need to plan for future at-home health care or already require care management via remote health monitoring, consumer health technology can make senior care more patient-centric, personal, and accessible. Talk with an elder law attorney and see what senior technology strategies can benefit you or your loved one.
We hope you found this article helpful. Please contact our Nashua office at (603) 881-9161 or our Woburn office at 978-458-4566 and schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.