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Archive for Sunday, April 28, 2002

Monitors turn health care into self-care

April 28, 2002

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More and more aging Americans have a finger on the pulse of a new health-care trend. Facing rising medical costs, shorter hospital stays and age-related chronic illnesses, many seniors are self-monitoring checking conditions ranging from hypertension to diabetes at home and seeking even more options for managing their health between doctor visits.

In response to consumer demand, medical-supply manufacturers have released a new generation of home health devices designed to let individuals with disabilities collect and understand important health data and administer medications without assistance. New low-vision-monitoring and medication-dispensing devices, for example, have larger readout displays or even provide information in a "talking" format. Some examples:

A blood pressure monitor automatically inflates at the touch of a button. When the reading is complete, blood pressure and pulse rate are announced in a clear voice.

A glucose monitor features a voice prompt that guides the user through the testing process, then tells you your sugar level.

A "talking" pill bottle informs the user of contents, directions for use and label warnings. Your doctor, pharmacist or care-giver records the prescription information into the device contained in the bottle. Push the small button, listen and follow the instructions. (If you cannot push the button, roll the device on the table, and the message will play.)

Those with restricted mobility may be interested in new, easier-to-use blood-pressure cuffs that do not require using a stethoscope, special insulin bottle caps.

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