How GPS Tools Can Help With Aging in Place

In a previous article on useful technologies for seniors, we discussed care benefits and keeping in touch with family, among other topics. In this post I want to expand a little bit on how some modern technologies can assist individuals in these specific areas. Specifically, thanks to modern GPS tools, there are some new and exciting ways for families to more effectively care for older loved ones, as well as for those same aging individuals to stay connected to their families.


 

Monitoring Driving Habits

When we imagine caring for older family members, we often think of assisted living facilities or isolated situations in which driving is no longer a concern.

However, the truth is that plenty of  people who require one kind of care or another are still driving, including those who may live in assisted living facilities! For a lot of aging individuals, the car remains a very important symbol of independence, even if it’s only used for short trips to the store, or to see friends or family across town. Giving up driving can be a very difficult step for many people in this position.

But the important thing is for each family to make the safest possible decision related to driving habits. And now, that can be done with assistance from a variety of new technological tools that rely on GPS tools and other sensors to monitor driving behavior. With these tools, you can automatically record where a car goes and what route it takes to get there, as well as (in some cases) how safely the driver performed. Things like sudden stops and starts or indications of distraction (like hands coming off the wheel) can be recorded.

The idea here is not to “police” an elderly family member who still wants to drive (as the same tools are sometimes used to police teens), but rather to be able to determine beyond a matter of opinion if and when said family member is no longer driving safely. This can be a crucial aspect of care.

Keeping Tabs On Older Loved Ones

GPS Tools for aging in placeOne of the scariest and most stressful things for family members taking care of  loved ones is the prospect that those loved ones could wander off or become lost. Typically this is more of a concern at a particularly advanced age, or as a result of the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s, but it’s a very real potential problem for a lot of families.

Until recently, there hasn’t been a particularly helpful solution; ’round-the-clock supervision is both expensive and invasive, and constant check-ups just aren’t always feasible.

More recently, Alzheimer’s GPS devices have become available. For example, through a clever implementation of GPS technology, the SmartSole, it’s basically a tool that uses a connected shoe insole to track the location of the wearer. You can simply place the insole in a person’s shoe and then see where that person is at any time by checking in on the related program.

Through this technology, family members and caregivers alike can have a far more reasonable way of making sure that your loved ones don’t get lost or wander off unintentionally.

Connecting Generations

Finally, and on a slightly less serious note, there are also GPS tools and technologies that can help family members just feel a little more connected to and involved with the lives of their children or grandchildren. Especially these days there’s a little bit of a divide in how people from different generations prefer to communicate. Today’s grandchild relies heavily on email and text messaging, while a grandparent may not have much to do with these things and prefer instead to make phone calls to catch up.

That’s a uniquely difficult problem to solve. But thanks to some very easy-to-use locator apps, any grandparent with a mobile device or tablet can now very easily keep up, in a way, with what his or her children and grandchildren might be up to.

There are a lot of options, but Family Locator is the leading location-sharing app, and allows families to set up networks with GPS location services and in-app messaging. With this program installed, any grandparent can pull up the app and immediately see where family members are and what they might doing, as well as whether or not other family members are conversing. There may be a slight learning curve, but it’s a new level of family connectivity that many will appreciate.

Adding up all of these things, it’s clear that new and improving GPS tools can actually make a significant impact on an aging individual’s life. These apps and tools can help older family members to be safer, more independent, and more connected with relative ease.

 
photo credit: Sept 14 — Holding hands in paryer via photopin (license)

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Charles Bell About Charles Bell

Charles Bell is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, Calif. He enjoys writing and reading about the latest technology news, playing basketball, and volunteering whenever he has free time.

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