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Digital technology brings independence for seniors

Technology is changing life inside nursing homes and other places where seniors live, including private homes.

The most cutting-edge among the new systems offer lofty promises for helping the tsunami of aging baby boomers live in less-restrictive and less-expensive settings in the years ahead.

Many of the recent technology upgrades inside long-term-care centers mirror the digital advances of the times, with Wii, Skype and YouTube being used to spice up therapy routines and entertainment programs.

But the most closely watched technological revolution is the growing use of motion sensors and so-called “patient-monitoring systems” to better track changes in a health and mobility.

“There are a whole host of things that are arriving on the market and being looked at as ways to improve care,” said Paul Langevin, president of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, a trade group that represents the long-term-care industry.

As technology advances, the big push is going to be installing sensor systems and data-recording devices in the walls, floors, carpets, beds and bathrooms.

Nursing homes, where patients require closer monitoring, are likely to turn to more sophisticated systems – ones that incorporate two-way video communication between patients and their caregivers as well as wearable monitors that alert caregivers if a patient has fallen or wandered out of a unit.

“There are all sorts of technologies available now that can be incorporated into a whole system designed to meet a facility’s needs,” Dalton said.

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