Senior Monitoring Device
Improvements in living condition and advances in health care have resulted in a marked prolongation of life expectancy for elderly and disabled population. These individuals, a growing part of society, are dependent upon the delivery of home health and general care, which has its own set of challenges and drawbacks. This population needs continuous general, as well as medical, supervision and care. The creation of retirement facilities and old age homes, as well as other geriatric facilities, provides only a partial solution to the problems facing the geriatric population. As discussed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,544,649 and 6,433,690, the notion of ambulatory (home environment) patient care is gaining increased popularity and importance. As discussed in the '649 patent, the number of old aged people receiving home care services under Medicare has shown a 13% annual growth rate and has tripled in 10 years (1978-1988) from 769,000 to 2.59 million. This shift in patient care from the “sheltered” institutional milieu to the patient's home, work place, or recreational environment is driven in part by cost and in part to a new care concept that prefers keeping the aged and the disabled in their own natural environment for as long as possible.
Typically, home care is carried out either by the patient's family or by nonprofessional help. The monitoring equipment at home care facilities is usually minimal or nonexistent, and the patient has to be transported to the doctor's office or other diagnostic facility to allow proper evaluation and treatment. Patient follow-up is done by means of home visits of nurses which are of sporadic nature, time consuming and generally very expensive. A visiting nurse can perform about 5-6 home visits per day. The visits have to be short and can usually not be carried out on a daily basis. Moreover, a visiting nurse program provides no facilities for continuous monitoring of the patient and thus no care, except in fortuitous circumstances, in times of emergency.