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'I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!' v2.0 155

Posted by timothy
from the when-skype-isn't-enough dept.
theodp writes "Remember those old Lifecall commercials? Well, you've come a long way, Grandma! The NY Times reports on a raft of new technology that's making it possible for adult children to remotely monitor to a stunningly precise degree the daily movements and habits of their aging parents. The purpose is to provide enough supervision to allow elderly people to stay in their homes rather than move to an assisted-living facility or nursing home. Systems like GrandCare, BeClose, QuietCare, and MedMinder allow families to keep tabs on Mom and Dad's whereabouts, and make sure they take their meds. Perhaps Zynga can make a game out of all this — GeriatricVille?"
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'I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!' v2.0

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  • great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @05:57PM (#33098138) Journal

    Now social services in England will have another excuse not to help people who need human attendance. "This equipment works just as well!" No, some GPS/accelerometer/camera/button is no substitute for the supervision, companionship and observational skill of humans.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:03PM (#33098164)

    Well as someone taking care of an Alzheimer parent I can see how all this will be beneficial. Being a caregiver is hard and we need all the help we can muster.

  • Re:great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:08PM (#33098188) Homepage Journal

    Now social services in England will have another excuse not to help people who need human attendance.

    The alternative is an archaic system of elder care called "families". I understand it was practiced in some parts of the world back in the 20th century.

    Apparently, here in the brave new world of the 21st century, every relative has to work in order to pay off the credit cards and cell phone bill, so there's insufficient personnel to staff these "families".

  • by Nick Fel (1320709) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:09PM (#33098200)
    Along these lines, I found a great research paper abandoned at the printer a few weeks back: http://www.yaroslavvb.com/papers/chen-bathroom.pdf [yaroslavvb.com]
  • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:19PM (#33098264) Journal

    The alternative is an archaic system of elder care called "families".

    Right, where to begin...

    (1) Yes, families do have the option to look after older members to a certain degree, and it's sad that parents in some societies are encouraged to separate themselves from their children and vice versa;

    (2) But not everyone has children. Recall also that children are a huge unearnt burden to the state, while older people have already paid their national insurance / social security / whatever contributions and are just getting the care they paid for. We are all better off because we do not breed out of concern about our frailties;

    (3) There are certain classes of illnesses better tackled by a staff of trained physical and mental health shift workers. For example, someone who is senile but mobile can be a great danger to themselves. They will keep you up all night. When do you propose to sleep?

    There are lots of poor alternatives to a good system of social welfare, and assuming that everyone has a loving able family of infinite resources produces one of them.

  • Re:great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:40PM (#33098378)
    Not sure how old you are, but as your parents age, you may find your parents value their independence and won't necessarily want their children around mollycoddling them. These gadgets, used judiciously, make for the best of both worlds - Your parents can continue to live independently in surroundings in which they're comfortable and to which they've grown accustomed, but they still can summon help if they need it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't come around with their grandkids or show up for Sunday dinner or mow dad's lawn or take mum out for brunch, it just means everyone can continue to have peace of mind.
  • Re:great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SlideGuitar (445691) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:48PM (#33098416)

    >(1) Yes, families do have the option to look after older members to a certain degree, and it's sad that parents in some societies are encouraged to separate themselves from their children and vice versa;

    (2) But not everyone has children. Recall also that children are a huge unearnt burden to the state, while older people have already paid their national insurance / social security / whatever contributions and are just getting the care they paid for. We are all better off because we do not breed out of concern about our frailties; >

    My preteen children year old are on firm warning... they can move out of state, but we parents are coming after them and moving into their attics/basements/spare rooms. There is no escape. And we live what we talk, taking care of our mother/mother-in-law next door.

    Are we better off if people do not breed for the purposes of old age insurance? I doubt it. We are better off if people do not breed excessively out of fear that disease will utterly deprive them of offspring for old age, but it is probably more sustainable to "entrain" children in the care of parents out of a sense of duty, than it is to free them to maximize their income and then tax that income to pay "someone else" to provide elder care.

    We might ask "would it not be more efficient for a lawyer or engineer to earn $200 K and pay someone else $50 K to watch an elder?" but that is probably a rare case. The cost of quality care is the cost of middle class income anyway, roughly, so why should this family service be exogenized into the market as opposed to remaining endogenous to the family?

    Well there is ONE very good reason and that is that women are the vastly predominant providers of elder care services. Marketizing those services enables women to have public careers as opposed to be locked into the family care giver role... mother to children, nurse to elders... for their entire life. Families are only "free" if you ignore the lost opportunities they tend to cause for women.

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:48PM (#33098420) Journal
    What a lonely thing it's become to grow old in our society.
  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:51PM (#33098434)
    I had an instance of this when I was taking care of mom in her last few months. (With ALS for what it's worth) I basically got a baby monitor and was going to set it up in her room so I could hear if she needed my help. Lets just say she wasn't particularly happy with the idea that I was using a product for infants to help her. (Especially because it was for infants. She really didn't like it because of that fact.) I did manage to find an easier to use walkie talkie with a simple button that you could push to ring me. She was ok with that. (I'm thinking she'd be pissed if I had a device that could keep complete track of her) Just saying, the psychology of it needs to be considered.
  • by mangu (126918) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @06:53PM (#33098438)

    In the 20th century, which you remember so fondly, it was a woman's job to be a mother and housewife. It was she who stayed at home taking care of children and elders, while dad went to work.

    Also, the gap between rich and poor was so wide that middle-class families earned enough to hire helpers from the lower classes. There was the cook, the housemaid(s), the gardener, to help take care of house and family.

  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:14PM (#33098550)

    In case you don't know, there are people who have to work for a living and can't stay home all day taking care of their parents.

    Also, in case you don't know, there are people who have to work for a living and can't stay home all day taking care of their children.

    It's all about priorities. Not judging, just saying.

  • Re:great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rbphilip (530254) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @08:05PM (#33098770)
    I don't have children, step-children or any other variation on extended family, so I'm on my own. Technology that allows me to continue to live on my own when/if I become frail would be welcome. I hope, if I become senile, that it happens gradually and/or with lucid phases so I can remove myself from the population and avoid becoming a vegetable.
  • Re:great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Saturday July 31, 2010 @09:59PM (#33099118) Homepage Journal

    Families were often much larger.

    Three kids. Six kids.

    I come from three generations of two-kid families. Everyone has lived to at least 68 and most over 75. I was the first to go to college. None has gone to "retirement homes". It's to a large part a matter of choice and priority, and to a large part thanks to labor unions, which brought such social advances as health insurance and pensions, which unfortunately have been under constant attack from the ownership class here in the US.

    Jobs for women outside the household were still scarce.

    Jobs for women outside the home, except during the periods of some glorious war or other, were not as necessary to raise a family.

    The alternatives to home care were few and often quite bleak.

    They are still quite bleak compared to families. Even the nicest of them.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:29PM (#33099224)

    This becomes more of a problem. If you are 60 years old, with some health problems of your own and still working for a few more years, do you really have time to look after your 85-90 year old parents? You can't very well be all day care, you still have to work, and you have commitments to your own health as well outside of that. Also the conditions of extremely advanced age can be much, much worse than younger, requiring nearly continuous attention of some kind.

    The people who look back to the "family did everything" days forget that lifespans were much shorter. Generally you died of something else before your age got the better of you. So your family wasn't saddled with care for all that long. You health might deteriorate and necessitate care for awhile, but it wasn't the situation like you sometimes see now where someone lives for 5-10 years nearly completely unable to care for themselves.

    There's also the simple issue of those that don't have kids. If we want population growth to stabilize you've got two choices:

    1) Rigidly enforce a two child per family model, require everyone to have no more or less children.

    2) Accept that some people will choose to have no children, just as some will choose to have many.

    What does the 80 year old person, who's done their work and paid in their money but has no kids, do?

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @10:58PM (#33099332)

    People get things stuck in their heads like "I won't use a baby monitor because I'm not a baby," and won't budge on it, regardless of practical considerations. Goes double for people who's minds are going anyhow. It is a continual problem with regards to getting people to take medication for mental conditions. Their logic goes along the lines of "Only sick people take medicine, I don't want to be sick so I won't take any medicine." Then they slip back in to whatever their particular form of crazy is, of course.

    Many people just lack the ability to be practical about some things. This gets even more problematic when it comes to things that deal with a loss of independence. That is something that many elderly people fear above all else. They do not want to feel like they are no longer independent. Doesn't matter how true it is, doesn't matter how manifestly clear it is, humans are great at denying things.

    So I'm glad you are a practical person, who can and will use whatever technology you can get to make your life better, and to keep yourself safe. Unfortunately, not everyone is the same way.

  • Re:great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Velex (120469) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:15PM (#33099382) Journal

    My preteen children year old are on firm warning... they can move out of state, but we parents are coming after them and moving into their attics/basements/spare rooms. There is no escape.

    If my parents did that, I'd call the cops on them for trespassing just like they did for me. I had to resign a good internship because I wasn't certain where I was living for a few days.

    In hindsight, sure, I was stupid to trust them without a written lease. I should have ditched them when I was 16 instead of waiting for them to upset my life with a 0-day move-out notice.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @06:18AM (#33100382)

    Oh shut up. Seriously, I get real tired of people who have a loved one with problems and thus get touchy about every damn thing relating to that. Get a thicker skin, or stop reading message boards.

    My point was not to throw the elderly out and let them die. My point was simply that care for them can be extremely difficult and stressful for many reasons. One of the reasons is that there's nothing to look forward to in terms of it getting better. That adds to stress.

    As for my heirs, there will not be any. I am not going to have children. We have plenty of people as it is.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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