Can AgeTech help care for the family caregiver?
23 August 2019 | 0 Comment
How AgeTech is providing peace of mind for the families of older adults and the vulnerable.
Ageing, frailty and living with illness is now part and parcel of modern life. It’s not always something that we want to think about or talk about; but it’s the new reality.
But for as much as we are told to plan for old age by saving into a pension, paying off the mortgage and managing our health and cholesterol – can you ever be truly prepared for when the unthinkable happens?
Life changing events are often thrust upon us with no warning, such as when a loved one has a stroke, diagnosis of life-changing illness, or death of someone close will come as a fundamental change to the entire family.
In the UK 1 in 8 adults (6.5m people) are carers. 20% of those providing unpaid care are working age adults with over 3m people juggling caring for a loved one with work.
For the team at Kraydel, building the service is about so much more than building a technology product. It’s a deep felt need brought about by changes in our personal circumstances, from when we needed a way for all of us to stay connected – even those of us who don’t (won’t or can’t) use smartscreen technology.
Care and recovery are often long and unknown journeys. An older relative’s health may deteriorate in just days or ebb and flow for years. For many families it means uncertainty and can be emotionally, physically and financially exhausting. You are caught in the dilemma of guilt at not being able to do more and needing to continue to live your own life.
Technology caring for carers
And this is where AgeTech will play a pivotal role. Technology can enable smarter care whilst offering families peace of mind. In order to deliver value, AgeTech must embrace five key themes:
- Simple and intuitive user-centred design
- Desirability and aspiration, not just functionality
- Seamlessly connected data, accessible anywhere and anytime
- Connected social communities
- Deliver care improvements and not just cost savings
When building the Kraydel platform we knew from the outset that TV-based calling was the most powerful tool we could give to both the senior and as importantly their family. Almost every house in the UK already has a TV and has a room configured around it. It’s a familiar and comforting device – even for those suffering from cognitive decline. We’ve designed Kraydel to be plug and play, so there is no need to invest in a smart TV. The Kraydel hub has all the smarts already built in. In just a few simple steps (the time to make a cup of tea) you can be making video calls from the comfort of your sofa.
The user interface is easy to use. We’ve timed how long it takes to learn how to navigate the interface (it takes someone who does not like smartscreen devices, about 1 minute to make a video call using their TV, from first introduction to Kraydel). There is no switching sources on the TV – this is all done automatically when the User engages with the remote control. This means that the common user experience challenges from new devices can be avoided. Our designers have made navigation through the system as frictionless as possible, by just asking questions with only “Yes” or “No” responses. Each answer takes you to the next option. This means there is no getting lost in settings, or accidentally activating the wrong app.
As mobility fails and tasks such as reading a book become more difficult so the TV becomes more important to the senior. It is not only a way to combat boredom, but it also enables seniors to retain contact with the outside world. The Kraydel social community enables seniors to connect with friends and local interest groups. All reassuring to families that they are active and engaged.
By enabling mobile, browser and sofa-to-sofa calling we wanted to enable families to stay in touch while they go about their daily lives. Forget about the challenges of teaching an elderly relative how to use a mobile phone. Now anyone with the Kraydel app can call in to their loved one’s TV. Whether you’re in the office, on the bus or abroad on holiday you are always in touch.
Care reminders and alerts sent through the TV can help develop routine. This is something which is critical to retaining independence and cognitive function. Routine provides the senior with an element of familiarity and certainty. It helps reduce the impact of anxiety and provides a sense of control.
IoT sensors in the home can notify family via the bluetooth in the Kraydel hub that the senior has started their day. You can also see that they are carrying out tasks such as boiling the kettle or watching TV. Knowing that their loved one is up and about provides family with peace of mind that all is well.
Kraydel also puts patient care and data analytics in the hands of the family. If the senior opts in to the data sharing, family can see dashboard updates on their loved ones health. I addition we provide a comparisons with aggregated data from a similar demographic. This answers the simple questions of “how well am I” and “how well am I compared to my peers”.
As AgeTech accelerates we will search out new innovative ways to support families and loved ones. Unpaid informal carers, most often family and friends are the bedrock on which our care system is built. And they need as much support as those they are caring for.