Ken Accardi, CEO of Ankota, a home care software company dedicated to keeping our elderly loved ones out of the hospital. Here he discusses trends in home care and offers insight on software options for caregivers. Read on:
What are the biggest trends or headlines you're following as they relate to seniors and healthcare?
Due to amazing medical advances, people are able to live healthy and productive lives well into their 80s and beyond. This has led home care to be the fastest growing industry in the U.S.. But this is only the beginning, Today there are around 12 million Americans over 80. By 2050, this number is expected to grow to 30 million.
How popular is home care today? How popular do you think it will be in the future?
Studies have shown that many elderly people fear being confined to a nursing home. I'm not sure that I'd call it "popularity" but when you combine the fear of nursing homes with the growth demographics it's clear that the demand for home care will skyrocket.
What are the most common health problems facing seniors who want to live at home?
Home can be a healthier environment than hospitals and nursing homes where it's easier to contract contagious diseases and infections. But regardless of environment, our elderly population is susceptible to numerous chronic and acute illnesses. My observation is that the risk of falling and breaking a leg or a hip is one of the biggest risks because it's hard to recover from. Great home care agencies train their caregivers on fall prevention.
What are the most important tools that those involved with home care should be aware of?
My vision is that home care will expand its scope. Today, home care provides an alternative for someone who chooses not to live in an assistive living or nursing care facility. I believe that home care also plays a critical role in keeping people out of the hospital. To that end we've developed a tool called Foresight care that checks in on home care recipients and tells the agency which clients should be followed up with.
How can software be used to improve life for both caregivers and patients?
The reality is that there won't be enough caregivers to meet the future demand. Technology has to fill the gap. Most of today's home care recipients (average age 83) are not tech savvy. The good news is that as the baby boomers age (the oldest baby boomers are now 70) they will be able to communicate and monitor their health with their smart phones. Today, the best use of technology is to foster communication between the elderly, their home care agency and their family.
What are some of your favorite digital tools or apps that help caregivers and patients?
As an industry, healthcare is behind in technology and as I explained above, the average 83 year old home care recipient is not a smart phone user. For this reason we developed Foresight Care to track patients via phone calls (including on old school land lines). Another app that we're excited about is FamilyConnect, which gives family members regular updates on their loves one's wellness.
What are the most important things seniors and their caregivers can do to help maintain health and happiness?
Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who was nicknamed the father of aerobics, made the statement "We do not stop exercising because we grow old - we grow old because we stop exercising." The most important thing for caregivers and seniors to focus on is exercise.
What are some detrimental habits or actions caregivers and/or seniors get into?
Building on the last point, the most detrimental situation is when a client becomes so reliant on their caregivers that they give up on their mobility. Caregivers should encourage their clients to keep moving.