How much exercise do you get? Is your loved one with dementia safe at home? Could you or a loved one benefit from quicker access to help in an emergency? Tracking and monitoring devices aim to address these types of health and safety concerns by using technology to accomplish things that may seem humanly impossible to do on our own. For example, no one is going to count how many steps they took in a day! If you’re new to tracking and monitoring devices, this guide will help give you a basic rundown of options for seniors that may work for you or your loved one.
An activity tracker, also known as a fitness tracker, is a device or phone app that monitors and tracks your daily activity (such as distance walked or ran). Many also monitor calorie consumption, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and sleep quality. Some are quite advanced and can monitor daily habits like eating, drinking, bathing, toileting, and grooming in order to identify subtle changes that may indicate health risks like memory loss or a urinary tract infection. They commonly come in different forms of wearables, such as a watch, wristband, or pendant – and some trackers are built into clothing like shirts, which are called “e-textiles” or “smart clothing.” However, apps are another option, sometimes free, that can be downloaded on your cell phone, allowing the phone itself to become a tracking device. In some ways, this technology can seem a bit like a glorified pedometer. However, if you’re looking for something beyond step counting, one of these devices may be perfect for your needs. Of course, if you’re just looking to count your steps, a simple, less expensive, pedometer may do the trick as well.
If you’re a caregiver for a loved one with dementia or a similar condition that causes them to become disoriented or lost in both familiar and unfamiliar places, you may wish to keep a close watch on them regularly. With location tracking, you don’t have to be physically present constantly. You can track a loved one’s location from afar through the use of GPS or cellular technology. These systems typically have two components: a wearable tracking chip and an app that it connects to wirelessly for monitoring from your smart phone. You may also consider a location tracking smart phone app. However, keep in mind that your loved one will need to have their phone on them at all times in order for tracking to work. Choosing the right product depends on which features you prefer as well as which type of device is most likely to be easily and comfortably worn every day. For the best results, decide if a tracker in the form of a wristwatch, necklace, clip, keychain, shoe insert, or other wearable will be the most convenient for daily wear.
Medical Alert Systems
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the number one cause of injuries and deaths among older Americans, and one in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Medical alert systems, also called personal emergency response systems, help seniors get connected with help during the event of an emergency, such as if they’ve fallen and can’t get up – or are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, stroke, seizure or something else that requires medical attention. The system may require the push of a button from a wearable or mounted device or it may be able to automatically detect a fall and send an alert, both of which would notify your local 911 emergency services, friend, or family.
Some medical monitoring systems offer automatic fall detection which can automatically detect a fall through the use of sensors throughout your home, eliminating the need to push a button. And some devices can even provide details of the fall to family members or senior care staff, such as noting when the fall happened, how long it took for emergency services to respond, and who responded to the emergency. Systems may also include GPS location tracking as well. These systems typically include a base station, the medical alert wearable, and the monitoring center. They may require a traditional landline or mobile line to connect – but some don’t require either. Having options means you can find the right product that works for you.
Does Medicare cover health tracking or monitoring devices?
If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover medical alert systems. However, some private Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans might provide medical alert (emergency response) systems for certain health-related issues. To find the right Medicare Advantage plan for your needs, contact a Medicare.org licensed sales agent at (888) 815-3313 – TTY 711 during our call center hours of operation Monday – Friday 5:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. PT and during AEP, Monday – Saturday 5:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Our phone lines are open 24 hours a day for after-hours messages.