Technology

How to talk to your parents about home monitoring

Louise Rogerson, COO & founder of Howz,

Louise Rogerson, COO & founder of Howz, the smart home monitoring system launched in partnership with EDF Energy

In recent years there has been a keen focus on prevention and early detection as a way to improve outcomes for patients.  This has been demonstrated with the NHS announcing its new long-term plan in which they aim to save 500,000 lives by focusing on those two points. Smart home monitoring systems are just one way to help. By monitoring behavioural patterns, families can have reassurance about an individual’s daily routine, all in a nonintrusive and effective way. However, it can be challenging knowing how best to broach the topic. Here, I outline a number of small but effective steps that can be taken to make home monitoring a little easier to discuss.

Do thorough research

Ahead of any conversation, make sure you’ve done thorough research. Utility companies, such as EDF Energy, are now offering home monitoring systems which help to connect the older generation, or those with additional needs, with families and carers. They work by spotting changes in behavioural patterns and then subsequently alert the chosen recipients. Ahead of speaking to your parent, make sure you’ve brushed up on all options.

Don’t put it off

Although the topic of health or functional decline can be an uncomfortable one, it’s always best to approach the topic as soon as you can. You can never be sure what the future holds so it’s vital to have a proactive conversation as early as possible, particularly before any medical issues arise. Rushed decisions can often result in an incorrect choice being made, and even regrets later down the line. Be aware that it is unlikely your parent will bring this topic up first. Most likely you will need to initiate this conversation and having all the options available is certainly going to help.

Take time to explain how it could help

As well as ensuring you are fully clued up on the topic, it’s essential to broach the conversation in a sensitive and meaningful way. Focusing on the positives, rather than dwelling on negatives, is also crucial and can make a real difference. Breaking down myths related to home monitoring will help to strengthen the conversation. Often the older generation believe that seeking help shows vulnerability, but it needn’t be this way. Home monitoring is in fact a way to empower the older generation as it enables them to remain in their own home for longer. 

Be prepared to discuss it multiple times

Having one single conversation about the topic of home monitoring might not be enough for some people. Be prepared to discuss the topic on multiple occasions and answer any questions to the best of your knowledge each and every time. Making the decision to invest in home monitoring can be a big deal for some people and it’s important to respect the needs of your relative. 

Get support

Getting support and advice from a GP, friend or sibling can also help to foster a positive conversation. They may suggest something which you hadn’t considered before, which could turn out to be a very valuable point. Engaging with third-party support for any extra information and encouragement could also help.

Ultimately, approaching the topic of home monitoring requires sensitivity and a level of respect from both parties. As more people begin to have honest and open conversations with their parents about health, it’s likely we’ll witness more families across the UK invest in home monitoring systems and similar technology. As we work to empower the older generations with such technology, we can expect more individuals to live longer, happier and more fulfilled lives.

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