Modern medicine has gone a long way in preventing and treating many age-associated diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, some types of cancer and cataracts, resulting in a higher population of older adults, the number of whom is expected to double by 2050. Many seniors continue to live active lives and function independently.
Currently, one-third of seniors in the US are living independently. Many of these people might have chronic diseases, and their lives might be endangered by sudden health aggravations, especially in cases of people living in isolation and unable to access urgent medical help.
Technology can help these people by enabling proactive monitoring of health indicators, provision of personal assistance, virtual care and virtual experience. UK statistics for 2019 say that 83% of seniors in the 65–74 age group use the Internet. Things like wearable devices, voice assistants, VR solutions or navigation systems can substantially improve seniors’ lives and may even help them with loneliness and depression.
1. Wearables and remote monitoring
Wearable devices accompany seniors in their daily routine and sports activities. Take Fitbit, the user-friendly gadget that monitors the heart rate 24/7 in real time, tracks steps, counts calories burned and helps improve sleeping habits. It is water resistant, so suitable for seniors who swim or attend water aerobics.
Device manufacturers pay a lot of attention to heart diseases that are perhaps the most common condition in older age. There are excellent solutions like iBeat designed to save lives. This smartwatch suits people with cardiovascular problems and can help detect and prevent heart attacks. It is equipped with a call button, which the user can press in emergency cases to notify first aid services instantly. The device also provides wearers with an option to have relatives monitor their health remotely via a cellular connection.
The portable Holter monitor helps those needing to monitor their heart activity 24 hours a day. The user attaches the device to the skin, and it then determines and records the user’s heart rate. The device is also able to control the wearer’s pacemaker.
2. Medication management
Senior people often forget to take or refill their pills, and there are mobile apps that can assist them with their routine. There are numerous assistant apps, such as health organizer CareZone.
Using this app, senior patients can have their doctors share medication lists with them, set times and reminders, easily order medications, and receive home deliveries. That makes seniors’ lives convenient, as they don’t need to go to the pharmacy by themselves or worry about suddenly running out of meds. Further, the app allows users to track their blood glucose and blood pressure, which is imperative for those suffering from diabetes or hypertension.
3. GPS and navigation systems
GPS tools can offer seniors the opportunity to live independently and stay connected with caregivers at all times, especially in cases of emergency. Devices with GPS locators ensure user safety and minimize chances that the wearer could get lost, which is particularly useful for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Both wearable devices and mobile apps can serve as locators. According to statistics, about 53% of people aged 65 and over are smartphone owners, which means many seniors can effortlessly adopt the technology.
Manufacturers equip almost every fitness tracker, smartwatch or other such wearables with a GPS that can connect with the user’s smartphone and gather and transmit location data. Applications such as Google Maps, MAPS.ME or OsmAnd function in online and offline mode and help users determine where they are, find their way home and send notifications to their relatives and caregivers.
4. Personal assistants
Another technology that is great for seniors is voice assistants like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Lots of devices, from TVs to compatible wearables and smartphone apps, can interconnect with voice-activated assistants. Users can control a lot of their home devices via voice commands, which may be easier for seniors than using a keyboard or touchpad.
These assistants can execute programmed actions to help with daily routine tasks, such as switching the lights on and off, controlling the indoor temperature, giving updates on the latest news or reminding users to take their medication. All that is needed from the users is their voice.
Voice recognition technology may significantly improve the lives of people with reduced vision or dexterity. A personal assistant can answer plenty of basic questions and provide recommendations or instructions. It can recognize many voices, so not only the owners but also their relatives can use the technology.
Many older adults suffer from chronic illnesses and require special care. Telehealth services help meet this need, enabling seniors to attend remote consultations and make virtual visits to their doctor via their smartphone or computer.
This technology can help senior people receive virtual medical screenings and get treatment recommendations, even if they live in rural or restricted areas. Telehealth has become more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic. E-visit alternatives make treatment accessible for all seniors and also facilitate this aspect for people with a disability.
Today seniors can visit distant places while staying at their homes. VR tools provide an excellent opportunity to enjoy new experiences, see unknown locations, indulge in new sports or trips that would otherwise be unattainable for older adults.
For instance, MyndVR cares about improving the lives of seniors and offers them new joyful opportunities. It allows users to take virtual tours, giving them the feeling of active socialization and helping get rid of loneliness. VR technology is able to reduce the feeling of isolation, anxiety and depression. It is also a great tool to stimulate seniors’ memory and cognition, helping them feel much more positive and confident.
Technology has helped make real what seemed impossible not long ago. Seniors can now receive care in various forms and experience dramatic improvements in being able to live independently and receive assistance. The wearable and tech market is vast and growing, and that makes it possible to pick the right devices for older adults with different health requirements and personal needs.