Caregivers play a key role in home care for their loved ones living away from them. Crucially, the number of adults living with chronic conditions is expected to significantly increase as medical treatments and applied technology enables more people with disabilities to age at home. Unfortunately, the number of family caregivers will not grow in proportion to the care needed.
Instead, the trend is in the other direction, as adult children move further away from their hometowns, families become smaller and those same smaller families either have working parents or are single parent households. This family caregiver gap contradicts fundamental- assumptions of bundled payments plans that aging at home, which is preferred by most older adults, is also cost-effective. Lack of family caregivers may render aging at home impossible from many.
Public health professionals have recognized functional independence of an aging population as a national goal. The goal is to measure changes in care
recipient’s abilities to manage their care or mobility over time and across post-acute care settings.
Technology is helping reconcile the mismatch between falling numbers of family caregivers. Catalyzing Technology to support family caregiver’s suggests five categories of products that can make family care giving easier.
Online communities to educate care givers connect with one another and provide information. Right tools to help choose the right homecare agency by family caregivers. Apps to support internal family communications and collaboration. Help with day-today tasks with remote patient monitoring plan to check on older adults at home.
The right home medical equipments chosen by caregivers enables older adults to complete their activities of daily living, often with help from caregivers, reflects the standard applied by Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurers for reimbursement- that is the cheapest alternative.
Researchers have begun to evaluate the value of embedding remote patient monitoring technology within common assisting dialing living assistive devices. Early sense monitors heart/respiration rates and motion patterns via an electronic device under the mattress to detect significant changes in those indications while a person rests or sleeps. This allows physicians to detect changes in health status and intervene before the patient crashes. Such passive data capture and transmission renders remote patient monitoring invisible to the older adult, allows caregivers awareness without being physically present gives clinicians access to biometrics and predictive analytics, and avoids the need for emergency care.
Government, insurers and health systems, however, can overcome these obstacles. Post acute care’s unique challenges require partnerships among different stakeholders homecare agencies, HME companies, rehab clinicians and long term care advocacy groups.
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