The Future Has Arrived…and It is Safer for Seniors

Technology is invading every aspect of our lives. Did you know that there is now a coffee mug that can be temperature controlled using your smart phone? Not only that, but the average new car comes with a futuristic array of technology to help drivers stay in their lane, find their way, adjust the climate, control their speed, and more.

Seniors are among those who are most likely to benefit from advances in technology. Devices hitting the marketplace can provide peace of mind to family members of older adults who wish to maintain their independence for as long as they can.

Remote Monitoring

Do you have a pacemaker, or know someone who does? If so, you are already familiar with the role of technology in monitoring health. Pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) can be remotely monitored. When they are triggered, ICDs record information that can be analyzed by the cardiologist to assist with diagnosis and prevention of future episodes.

Similar technology exists to monitor weight gain in patients with congestive heart failure, blood glucose in diabetics and other vital information for those with chronic conditions. The benefit is that early detection of symptoms can trigger an intervention before a condition becomes serious enough that the patient requires hospitalization.

Aging in Place

Remember the pendant that could be activated if a senior living alone fell down and could not get up? It turns out that was only the beginning. Today, concerned family members can monitor numerous aspects of an elderly loved one’s life, from the number of times they open the refrigerator, to their daily use of the restroom, to their medication compliance.

Here are just a few devices that are helping Americans age in place safely.

MedMinder – a digital pill dispenser that locks and unlocks compartments to prevent patients from taking too many pills. It also monitors whether the dose has been taken at the right time, provides auditory reminders, and contacts a family member if the patient has not complied.

Reminder Rosie – a talking clock that is programmed with a loved one’s voice offering gentle reminders to take medication, eat a meal, or complete any task.

Wellness by Alarm.com – a series of sensors set throughout the home use machine learning to notify a loved one if there is a change in routine including activity levels, bathroom use, sleeping and eating patterns.

Phillips’ Lifeline (and other emergency pendants) – can be triggered during a medical emergency. Some versions are equipped with GPS and may be used outside of the home to summon help during a fall or other medical event.

Nannycams/grannycams- a camera, hidden or exposed, in the home can help loved ones feel confident in the care their family members receive.  Whether your family is trying to determine if a loved one can continue to live alone or ensuring the selected paid caregiver is the right choice, this may be an option.

Whether or not you are a fan of technology, it is clear that the future is now. Embracing at least some of the available advances can be the key to independence, safety and better health for the elderly and the chronically ill.

Want to learn more about whether technology can help your loved one maintain their independence? Contact Care Answered for a consultation about your options.

Healthcare Financing 101: How Health Insurance Works

understanding bills, health insurance

Healthcare can be confusing. Before you even step foot in the doctors’ office, you’ll need to understand the terminology and concepts surrounding health insurance. Knowing the difference between premiums, co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles will allow you to be a savvy healthcare consumer, help you anticipate out-of-pocket expenses, and avoid costly surprises.

Premiums

Your premium is the amount of money you pay for your health insurance coverage. Premiums are usually paid monthly. If you obtain health insurance through your employer, your premium may be deducted directly from your pay check. Often, your employer will contribute a portion of the premium payment, making health insurance more affordable for you.

If you are a Medicare recipient, you may pay a premium for your coverage. Generally, Medicare Part A, hospital coverage, is provided with no premium to those over 65 who also collect Social Security or who are eligible for Social Security but elect to wait to collect it. There is a premium for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor’s visits, outpatient therapy and durable medical equipment. This premium is paid monthly; for some people, the amount is deducted from their Social Security payment.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

Out-of-pocket costs refer to the amount you will pay for medical services out of your own pocket, in addition to your premiums. There are three main types:

  1. Annual deductible – this is the total amount that you are responsible to pay before your insurance coverage kicks in. Plans with higher premiums tend to have lower annual deductibles; those with lower premiums will have higher annual deductibles. Costs of hospitalization, procedures, laboratory testing and surgery may be applied to your deductible. Co-payments and premiums do not count toward your deductible.
  2. Co-insurance – this is the amount you are responsible for after your annual deductible has been met. Together, you and your insurance company will share the total cost of your medical care.
  3. Co-pay – this is the amount that you are required to pay to your provider for an office visit or prescription.

Once your out-of-pocket maximum has been reached, you will likely no longer be responsible for co-pays and co-insurance.

Your costs may vary depending on whether you select an in-network or out-of-network provider. For this reason, it is important to read and understand your health insurance policy so that you can make informed decisions about when and where to obtain care and anticipate how much your care will cost.

Still have questions?

Contact Care Answered. If you are trying to understand medical bills, or planning for future care needs, we can help you untangle the mess and make wise, well-informed decisions.