7 Technologies That Can Help Keep the Elderly Safe
An adult child’s concern for an aging parent is nothing new, but as the baby boomer generation heads for retirement the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that nearly 20 percent of the population will be 65 or older by 2030.
The concern about aging parents living alone is about to reach an all-time high and, while the state of assisted living facilities continues to improve, many seniors prefer to keep their independence as long as possible. This begs the question, “How can we keep our parents safe and have peace of mind at a cost that we can afford?”
While there has been an explosion of wearable technology — devices that monitor an individual’s health and fitness levels, including sleep patterns and water intake to name a few — products just for seniors have been lacking. The good news is that is starting to change.
Asif Khan, CEO of Caremerge, a healthcare technology company dedicated to improving communication and care coordination within senior living facilities, has identified several forward-thinking companies that have stepped up to help solve this problem.
Here is a list of 7 apps and technologies that can help families, patients, and health care providers keep our seniors safe:
Small sensors are placed on objects within the home – such as prescription pill bottles or the refrigerator – to detect when the resident is taking medications, getting food, or leaving the home. Activity signals are sent from the sensors to Lively’s website (no Internet or Wi-Fi connection required), where the data is held for family members and caregivers to monitor.
Data is also shared via smartphones and email, with notifications on any irregular activity. A printed LivelyGram mailer with photos and messages from family members and friends is automatically created twice a month for the adult in the home.
As our parents grow old, the possibility of a fall is one of the costliest and most difficult risks to manage. Recovering from a fall at an old age is extremely difficult. It can result in a lack of mobility, causing depression and other serious conditions that can put the patient in a downward spiral.
WalkJoy is a company that has set out to solve this problem. Its non-invasive technology aids in the restoration of gait and balance for people with peripheral neuropathy. Devices are attached to the knees to re-establish a signal, telling the brain that the heel just struck the ground. The brain’s central nervous system incorporates the new signal from the device, and the motor system responds as if there is no loss of sensation in the foot, thereby returning the person to a normal gait.
The company also offers a second device, WalkingHealth, that serves as a walking diagnostic tool, helping to reduce falls by those elders suffering from mobility challenges.
Physical fitness and healthy daily movement are critical to healthy aging. However, most times it’s not easy to figure out how much physical activity or exercise is necessary. It depends upon a person’s physical abilities, their overall condition, and medications, just to name a few.
RespondWell uses a Kinect sensor to help understand a person’s physical limitations and connect them with a therapist who can then create an individualized physical fitness plan. The plan is then plugged into RespondWell, where an avatar helps the patient follow along and determine progress. Feedback is again sent back to the designated therapist, so he or she can monitor progress and make changes to the plan accordingly.
Independa and LG
A meticulously designed interface known as “Angela” is a HAL-like personality built in to LG TVs and ready to use with larger screen fonts and higher contrast for the elderly. When activated for use, the viewer can browse the web, use video chat with friends and family, access simple e-mail, play games, see family photos, follow a daily schedule, get medication reminders, and more. Angela can even be programmed to call mom or dad to remind them to take medications. These services are available through TVs and laptops in private homes, senior living accommodation, and skilled nursing facilities.
These discreet devices allow families to have peace of mind while their loved ones remain mobile with a GPS locator to help stay connected. These GPS locators provide real time location information and activity that can be viewed through a web-based portal or smartphone. There is also a PocketFinder device that mounts directly on to a vehicle and is powered by the car’s battery.
Guardian Medical Monitoring
Guardian offers the Virtually There Care camera monitoring system, which allows family members to check in on their loved ones living independently via remove camera viewing and audible communication. This decreases the need for paid caregivers and daily check-ins, lowers home care costs in assisted living or nursing placement, and extends independence.
Although not quite to market yet (3-5 years), the BioStamp will put medical diagnostics on a whole new playing field for all ages. Applied like a band-aid or temporary tattoo, the BioStamp measures everything from hydration levels (critical for senior citizens) to body temperature, heart rate, brain activity, and even exposure to UV radiation. BioStamp uses wireless technology to upload data to a nearby smartphone for analysis, so grandma’s doctor can check in without having to visit!