long-distance caregiving

Long-Distance Caregiving: All About Elderly Monitoring Systems

When the pandemic unexpectedly hit the entire world, social isolation among the senior population in Singapore has been worsening. In fact,a study conducted by the Singapore Department of Statistics states that the expected number of elderly folks living alone will skyrocket to 83,000 by 2030. 

It poses the challenge of looking after your elderly loved ones without physically being with them. How do you ensure they are safe and sound in the comfort of their home? How can you allow them to live independently without invading their privacy and personal space?

This is where elderly monitoring systems come into play. These are devices that can immediately respond to panic emergencies, accidents and prolonged inactivity when you’re away. It makes caregiving from a distance entirely possible through sensors, machine learning and smartphone apps.

In this article, we’ll dive deeper into elderly monitoring systems, how they work, their benefits, and the top features you should look for when buying these devices. 

Getting Started: What Do Elderly Monitoring Systems Do?

Elderly monitoring systems have been transforming lives for the better by taking advantage of advanced technology. They collect a range of data such as behavioural patterns, sleeping habits, movement, and temperature, among many others. 

Using the information gathered, medical professionals and caregivers can accurately assess insights into an elderly’s well-being and day-to-day life.

Depending on the senior monitoring system, every device varies in specifications. However, they commonly track the following factors:

  • Location

To keep track of your elder folks’ whereabouts, some elderly monitoring systems include Global Positioning System (GPS) based location tracker. They set up geofences so you’re instantly notified if seniors leave their homes and go somewhere else. 

  • Falls

According to studies, more than one in four people aged 65 years or older fall every year. Causes of these incidents may vary but conditions like diabetes and heart disease, cognitive impairment, and safety hazards are the common ones.

Fortunately, monitoring devices include features that can detect when seniors have fallen or tripped. It will alert the family members or care provider and send emergency services depending on the severity of the situation.

  • Health and Wellness

Monitoring devices allow you to observe your senior loved one’s blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. They can also remind your elderly folks to take their medication and track whether they’ve taken them or not.

Moreover, you can use these monitoring systems to know their emotional well-being through messaging, two-way calling, and activity tracking.

  • Safety

If you’ve always been worried about fire incidents, burglary, and carbon monoxide, elderly monitoring systems come with detection features to keep your loved ones safe. Some of them can even detect if someone is entering the residences without your permission. 

How Elderly Monitoring Systems Work

Some elderly monitoring systems in Singapore use passive sensors. They are set up around the house and require little to no interaction to work. These devices are also known for their unobtrusiveness, collecting data for analysis and allowing people to go on about their day without inconveniences.

Let’s say your 70-year-old father typically wakes up between 5 to 7 in the morning and makes a healthy breakfast. Once the monitoring system senses that the routine has changed, it may indicate that he feels ill or something has happened that needs immediate medical attention. 

Here’s what a senior monitoring system may consist of

    • To detect and record when the user leaves or back to the home through a door sensor. For instance, if a senior does not leave the house for a usual routine such as morning exercise, it could indicate he or she not feeling well.
    • A device may include smart plug sensors to detect what time a kitchen appliance is usually turned on, such as kettles, stoves, and microwaves.
  • Through motion sensors, the monitoring device can detect the number of trips to the bathroom and whether they have returned or not. Alerts can only be sent out when anomalies are detected such as prolonged inactivities in the toilet.
  • A smoke alarm detects if the house has excessive smoke or high temperature. An alarm will be triggered when, for example, an electrical appliance catches fire. 
  • Allow users to seek immediate help through a panic button such as during a fall or feeling unwell.

The data that will be gathered from these sensors can reveal if your loved ones stick to a regular routine, experience a high level of night-time activity or bathroom usage, and many more. 

Types of Elderly Monitoring Systems You Should Know

Before technological advancements happened in the medical field, telephone calls were the most popular way to check in on your elderly loved ones. But now that times are rapidly changing, home care for the elderly in Singapore can be easily installed in apps and other devices.

Take a closer look at the most popular types of elderly monitoring devices you should keep in mind:

Emergency buttons

Emergency buttons are the most basic and important devices for seniors. Emergency or SOS button allows the elderly person to seek help at the touch of a button in emergency situations, such as when they feel unwell, fall incidents or have injuries. 

Often in an emergency situation where the airway constricts or one loses consciousness, calling the emergency number or a family member won’t lie within the realm of possibility even with a mobile phone next to them. A good and reliable panic button offers peace of mind to both you and your elder folk's life living alone. 

A good emergency button has to be reliable with long battery life and low-battery indication, and have good wireless coverage to ensure it works at every corner of the house. It also needs to be splash-proof so it can be placed in a wet area.

Most importantly, it needs to send out the alert signal reliably and immediately to alert caregivers when it is pressed!

Location Tracker

These devices are mostly worn by mobile seniors, coming in various forms like pendants, small bracelets, watches, and necklaces that almost look like real jewellery. 

Their features include duress alarms, fall detection and activity tracking. Caregivers can also track seniors anytime and anywhere with GPS-enabled devices. This allows them to send information on their location and SOS signals during emergencies.

Movement/Activity Sensors For The Elderly

Movement sensors are normally fixed to the wall to detect movement within the house. This allows caregivers to know if their seniors are moving well and receive alerts when anomalies are detected such as the prolonged absence of movement in a particular area of the house such as the toilet, which might indicate a fall. 

Such sensors can only alert caregivers when, say, a senior has not come back home when they should be.

There are wearable activity sensors such as Fitbit that can accurately keep track of the person's movement throughout the day. Such devices allow caregivers to closely monitor if their seniors are doing well and intervene as necessary, such as the detection of unusually low step count for the day.

There are also sensors attached to bed pads and rugs to alert them when seniors leave the bed. Such sensors can also automate, for example, the switch when a senior gets off the bed to the toilet at night.

Baby Monitors For Dementia Patients

There’s no doubt that caring for your senior loved ones who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is a heartbreaking reality. In Singapore,a report from Channel News Asia shows that only a few nursing homes are fully equipped to look after dementia patients since they require intensive care and medication. 

It leads you to the possibility of letting them stay at home for financial and emotional purposes. But how do you exactly look after them, especially on days you can’t be physically around? If you have an ageing parent that suffers from this condition, then you know how worrisome it is because of their erratic behaviour.

This makes baby monitors a part of the elderly monitoring system. Some of them have two-way communication that lets you talk to your loved ones in real-time, while others come with temperature monitoring, a 360-degree view and fall detection.

However, using a baby monitor can invade your loved ones’ privacy even if you don’t intend to. They would feel like they are watched every minute, which can make them feel extremely uncomfortable.

So, we highly advise that you talk to your elderly folks first before choosing baby monitors and any other camera-activated devices. Inform them that it’s for their utmost safety and you’re not taking away their right to independence. 

Smart Home Devices

Another great type of elderly monitoring system are smart home devices. They are mainly helpful in helping you remotely control and monitor things like security, temperature, lights and the overall safety of your parent’s home. A smart home device can also send alerts in case something unexpected happens.

What’s more, they are voice-controlled devices which is beneficial for seniors who find it difficult to communicate through a keyboard or mouse.

Medical Alert Devices

Is your elderly loved one suffering from chronic conditions like heart disease, arthritis or high blood pressure? If so, medical alert systems can be your top choice as they help people get the immediate medical attention they need. 

For instance, with just one press of a button, they can send alerts to healthcare providers or caregivers if emergencies happen. 

Benefits of Using Elderly Monitoring Systems For Senior Citizens & Caregivers

How does an elderly monitoring system effectively improve the daily routine of senior citizens’ lives? Let’s take a look at the benefits of these devices and how they make quality home care for the elderly in Singapore possible:

For Senior Citizens

Makes Independence More Possible For The Elderly

At the age of 63, your parents are ready toretire. This is the stage of their lives where they pay full attention to themselves again, go back to neglected hobbies and spend quality time with their grandchildren.

Once they reach their retirement age, you might feel this overwhelming responsibility to let them live under your roof to make sure they’re doing okay. However, your elderly folks may want to nurture their independence and age peacefully at home.

It can be a relief to see senior citizens make decisions for themselves and face life on their terms. However, you also need to ensure their safety and well-being, especially if they live on their own.

And what could be more convenient than investing in an elderly monitoring system to keep them safe and sound even when you’re away? Having sensors and smart devices can help put your mind at ease and aid independent seniors in their everyday lives.

Reduces Healthcare Costs

We understand that including elderly monitoring devices in your list of priorities can be anxiety-inducing, especially when you’re on a tight budget. Luckily, there are lots ofsubsidies available for senior care in Singapore that provide a home monitoring system like the Singapore Red Cross’HoME+ programme.

If you’re in the low-income bracket, these programs can help you assist your loved ones without breaking the bank. Aside from that, senior monitoring devices have also been proven to reduce overall healthcare costs. 

Since they can collect health data like heart rate and blood pressure through sensors, they eliminate unnecessary hospital visits.

Most importantly, remote monitoring technology increases patient engagement. When your elderly loved ones are more engaged in their situations, they are more likely to take medications and follow treatment plans. This, in turn, reduces medical emergencies and additional treatment regimens.

Maintains Your Loved Ones’ Privacy

You may be on the fence about using an elderly monitoring system because you don’t want to invade your ageing parents’ privacy. The term ‘monitoring’ already sounds alarming to you, so what makes it worth a try?

When it comes to these devices, you shouldn’t interpret things on a surface level. If you’re not a big fan of using in-camera systems, Blissful Life offers a better approach by providing home sensors that are discreet and unintrusive. 

Blissfull Sense, for example, is a non-intrusive activity-based sensing system that does not record video or audio and is easy to set up around the house to effectively monitor the well-being of your seniors at home. Emergency buttons allow the elderly to seek immediate help such as during a fall or when feeling unwell.

Assists With Cognitive Issues

1 in 10 people in Singapore that are aged 60 and above suffer from cognitive impairment,a study by Singapore Health Services has shown. 

If your parents are showing signs of cognitive issues and they live alone, this is the best time to install an elderly monitoring system. This can be especially beneficial whether you plan on hiring an in-home nurse or transferring them to a nursing facility. 

For instance, letting them wear a wearable with location tracking can make a caregiver’s job easier in case they wander off and get lost. They can instantly send alerts in case they are in imminent danger and need assistance. Check out Blissfull Life website for such devices.

Easy To Set Up And Use

A variety of gadgets that mainly keep track of vital signs, health and fitness are popular in the market. However, before a user can maximise its perks, they have to know the ins and outs of using them. 

Let’s say you buy your ageing loved ones a fitness watch to monitor their sleep and heart rate. The problem is, you need to have a smartphone where you can install an app to view the results. If your parents aren’t exactly tech-savvy, they might never get the hang of it.

On the other hand, choosing a senior monitoring device instead can accompany your elderly folks without too many complications. It can monitor living parameters like daily activity, vital signs, usual resting times, air quality and so on.

They alert you when anomalies are detected. Blissfull Sense is built exactly with that in mind, and it's simple to set up. No complicated installation is involved—no drilling and sensors are stuck to the wall with residual-free double-sided tapes.

Another good news is that since it detects vital signs, it can help in the early detection of health issues. For example, if it shows disrupted sleeping patterns and a lack of interest in moving around, it might be an early sign of depression.

For Caregivers

Gives You Peace Of Mind

Being away from your parents when you know they’re getting old and nearing retirement age is never easy. You always have thoughts racing through your mind, which can be exhausting to think about. 

Have they eaten their meals? Are they following the medication schedule you attached to the fridge door? Did they properly turn the cooking stove? Are they feeling well today?

Through a reliable monitoring system, you can get a sense of relief. You’ll receive notifications and get contacted immediately if something goes wrong, depending on the monitoring system you choose.

Saves Lives

Studies show that aboutone-third of older adults aged 60 and above in Singapore have fallen more than once, resulting in injuries. Of course, this leads us to the discussion of making their homes hazard-free by installing handrails, removing clutter and making bathrooms nonslip.

And to top it all off, getting an elderly monitoring system can detect abnormal activity and send alerts in case things go awry such as when a fall happens.

Lets You Support Senior Care Technology

Elderly monitoring systems in Singapore are still considered a work in progress. They have so much potential that still hasn’t been discovered yet, with machine learning technology on the hunt for innovations.

So, when you invest in elderly care technology, you are supporting its growth and future developments. Meaning, you’re not only supporting your loved ones because you’d be helping your older self too. 

Just like your parents, you’ll grow old one day. What happens in the future isn’t in your hands, but having these AI-based devices would help you face the rest of your life with ease.

Top Features to Look For in an Elderly Monitoring System

Now that you know the advantages of elderly care technology and how it’s changing lives for the better, you may be considering investing in one. But not all elderly monitoring systems are created equal, so how do you make sure you’re picking the best one in the market?

Check out the top features you should look for to help you make the best choice for your elderly folks:

Remote Activity Monitoring

Does your mom prepare herself a healthy breakfast or does she spend a huge chunk of the morning just lying in bed? Perhaps, you also feel worried that she spends her nights awake, that’s why she usually feels restless in the morning.

Thanks to motion sensors, remote activity monitoring helps you make sure that your loved ones follow a healthy routine without being intrusive. You will also receive alerts if something unusual happened so you can address it right away.

Door Alarms

Door alarms ordoor sensors are one of the important features of a dependable monitoring system. It’s easy to install, relatively inexpensive and alerts you if an intruder enters your loved ones’ property without your knowledge or situation whereby your seniors leave the house unnecessarily in the middle of the night.

For example, if the front door opens in the middle of the night, a door sensor will send alerts allowing you to intervene. It’s also a great idea to attach these sensors to doors or windows and other vulnerable entry points for maximum security.

Medication Reminders

The required medications a person needs to take regularly get longer as they age. The schedule for taking these medications can also get confusing and complicated, and remembering them on your own may feel challenging.

In fact, medication noncompliance is common among senior citizens in Singapore. According to a study conducted by Singapore General Hospital (SGH),60% of older people surveyed do not follow their prescribed medications. This leads to an increased risk of hospitalisation and the prevalence of chronic illnesses.

This is why medication reminders can be a great help. Certain systems will let you enter the dosage information into caregiver management software and set reminders on a screen. Some of them can also send follow-up reminders or alerts!

Alert Buttons

Known to be life savers,alert buttons are devices that can be used to ask for help if a person experiences an emergency. To make sure it functions properly during a medical crisis, Blissfull Life's alert buttons are:

  • Reliable and splash-proof (suitable for use in areas such as toilets and washing areas)
  • Long battery life
  • Wide coverage to ensure it works at any corner of the house, any time of the day.

It is also important to make sure that help buttons are portable so your loved ones can use them wherever they are. You can buy adurable lanyard to transform alert buttons into wearables.

Health Monitoring

Another good feature you should look for in elderly monitoring systems is health monitoring. This is especially helpful when your senior folks have health issues, helping you with early intervention to reduce the chances of costly treatments.

This helps in tracking vitals such as weight, temperature, blood pressure, blood glucose and many more. A good monitoring system can trigger an alert if it records something unusual. That way, you can instantly take action before the health condition of your ageing parents gets worse.

Having seniors manually keep track of vital sign measurements on daily basis can be a daunting task. 

Thankfully, Blissfull Life provides Blissfull Vitalskit that canautomatically synchronise vital sign measurement, store unlimited historical vital sign data, provide informative reports and charts enabling healthcare providers to see the changes in your loved ones’ health. 

Inactivity Detection

In case your elderly folks fall, they may not be able to press a panic button, especially if they lose consciousness. For such situations, a monitoring system can send out alerts when it doesn’t detect any movement in the house or a certain part of the house such as the toilet. 

Some monitoring system comes with fall detection which can send out alerts when it detects potential fall. Do check out Blissfull Life to find out more about the availability of such devices.

Final Thoughts

Long-distance caregiving comes with difficult challenges. How do you nurture your elderly loved ones’ right to independence while making sure they’re safe and sound in the comfort of their home at the same time?

Through the introduction ofelderly monitoring systems in Singapore, providing senior citizens with a safe and healthy life is within reach. Even when you live miles away from them, you can be guaranteed that their well-being and safety are in great hands. 

The mission of Blissfull Life is to promote inclusiveness and independence for seniors who live alone. We offer monitoring systems that are non-intrusive, easy to set up and affordable to make this groundbreaking technology more accessible. 

And when you’re ready to take the next step, we’ll be here to assist. In the meantime, you can take advantage of our 6 or 12-month rental options to test what fits the needs of your elderly folks. For more information,send us a message—we’re more than ready to answer your questions.

Back to blog