(HealthNewsDigest.com) - According to a US census report in June of last year, those over the age of 65 grew to 49.2 million in number. This demographic now accounts for 15.2 percent of the total US population. Additionally, Bloomberg notes that by 2020, approx. 45 million Americans will be caring for 117 million elderly.
Taking care of a rapidly aging population is an issue that is being faced across the globe on numerous fronts. As a result, health pertaining to aging have received increased attention in news outlets. And a greater focus on preventing potential health risks have improved the quality of care that most seniors receive. But challenges remain.
Family member caregivers are at the front-line
Caregivers are typically classified as those who are unpaid for their role in caring for an invalid family member or aging relatives.
In numbers produced by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, approx. 43.5 million Americans have provided this type of care within the last 12 months. The Alzheimer's Association notes that 15.7 million family caregivers care for someone with age related dementia.
These duties, however, can pull caregivers away from their jobs, which result in missed workdays and a reduced income. As parents age and their medical needs increase, this creates an additional strain on household resources.
The alternative is that of using a home health aide, or having a parent move into an assisted living home, or some institution of that variety. The cost of doing so is one that families within a certain income bracket are unable to consider.
Elderly parents and their adult children are then faced with a series of equally unappealing choices. For elderly parents, moving in with their adult children can be seen as a step toward losing their independence. And adult children caregivers cite loss of privacy as a sore point.
Making long-distance and remote care a possibility for family caregivers
An aspect of caregiving that has received increasing attention? How to care for elderly parents via long-distance or remote means.
The advantages are clear. The elderly parent gets to stay in her own house and within the comfort and rituals that she is used to. The adult child is able to still check in on the elderly parent, as if the parent were in the house with him or her. But without needing to take time off work and without the upheaval that a cross-country move would bring.
Are such technologies available? Best Buy Co., the US retailer, believes it is possible. The US retailer has created gadgets that provide a smart-home tech installation that can help monitor elderly loved ones. And they are not alone in the race toward providing tools for a market that will only continue to grow.
Medical Guardian is another company that has created one such system. Theirs provides a remote way to monitor elderly loved ones’ activities through sensors and connected apps. Other ways that their system can be used is through providing a screen that can be mounted in the house where family members can post reminders.
At present, such systems have a high price tag. But as more companies compete for the market, it is assumed this tech will become affordable and a good choice for long-distance or remote care.
In the meantime, what steps can a person take who is faced with caring remotely for elderly parents?
AARP suggests the following to those faced with remote care of a senior:
Create a contact list that includes the numbers of friends, doctors, and everyone in contact with the senior. Use this contact list in case of an emergency, or when the individual is unable to get in contact with the senior directly.
Eldercare Locator can find government services are available in the immediate area.
In some areas, mail carriers serve as part of the Carrier Alert Program of the US Postal Service. They are trained to report concerning signs, such as trash or mail that has accumulated.
Visits with elderly parents should be productive times where the adult child assesses their parent’s state. Focus on questions that help reveal what areas he or she could use additional help in.