2020 Age-Technology trends (Overview)
Seniors who choose to age in place are getting a boost from smart technologies to live life on their own terms. Chatbots, virtual assistants, and other wireless devices are keeping older adults connected with family and friends while helping them with daily living activities.
The mission to provide smart-living technology for seniors is due, in part, to the fact that the number of people 65 years old and over is expected to increase significantly over the next decade.
So, it stands to reason that technology designed for older adults will continue to evolve to help them with a variety of physical, mental, and emotional challenges.
Most of all, seniors are embracing artificial intelligence, robotics, and other technology trends that help them live independently.
Smart Home Technology
By connecting smart technology in the home via a computer, smartphone, or other devices, older adults who live alone can have someone—or better yet, something—checking up on them at all times. Caregivers can also use the devices to help with their caregiving duties.
For example, a bed sensor can alert a caregiver when the older adult gets out of bed. Using artificial technology, a chatbot (short for “chatterbot”) can be programmed to greet the older adult with a “Good morning,” ask how he or she feels, provide a rundown of the day’s events, and give reminders about taking medication.
It takes time to connect and program the devices, but smart home technology can provide huge benefits for older adults.
I Can Hear Clearly Now
Smart hearing aids allow wearers to personalize their devices to their needs while in different environments, stream phone calls, music, and other audio directly from a smartphone, and ask questions to a virtual assistant, such as Amazon Alexa.
Some companies have added fall detection technology that identifies when a wearer falls and sends alert messages to designated contacts.
The Doctor Will See You Now—Online
Telemedicine has been around for quite some time, but the coronavirus pandemic has elevated it to a new level. With medical offices closed and residents urged to stay at home to avoid spreading the coronavirus, older adults have been deprived of in-person visits to their doctors.
However, via a computer or smartphone app, seniors can schedule a virtual appointment with their doctors. Some health insurance plans cover the cost of telemedicine visits.
While a virtual checkup is not a substitute for an in-person examination, doctors can talk to patients about their health concerns, prescribe medicine, and determine whether their patients need emergency medical attention, and much more.
Flip Phones Are Back, and Smarter, Too!
Before rectangular-shape smartphones dominated the market, there was the flip phone, a basic cell phone with a large display screen, and big, easy-to-see buttons.
Flip phones were popular in the 1990s when personal cell phone use started to take off. A hinge on the outside of the phone allowed the device to fold over to protect the screen, located on the top of the phone, and the buttons, located on the bottom of the phone.
Older adults have more choices with the new generation of flip phones. While the basic talk-and-text feature is still available, some flip phones have smart features specifically for older adults, such as buttons to press in emergency situations, to speak with nurses or doctors, and to get medication and refill reminders.
There’s also plenty of apps to download, including ones for social media, games, and those that allow family members to track their loved one’s location.
Joy For All Companion Pets
Pets make great companions for older adults, especially those who live alone. But, not all seniors have the ability to care for a cat or dog. So, Ageless Innovation LLC created the next best thing.
The global company that says it is dedicated to developing fun and engaging products for older adults has created robotic pets. The Joy For All Companion Pets line consists of a cat, kitten, and puppy that can almost pass for a real animal.
The life-like interactive pets have coats that feel like real fur, and built-in sensors that respond (just like a real cat or dog) to hugging and petting. The cat, for instance, rolls over for tummy rubs, and technology gives it a purr that sounds like the real thing.
Pet the pup and its heartbeat slows down, while BARKBACK technology makes it sound as if the pup is actually answering back when someone speaks to it.
Like real pets, the adorable robots make perfect companions for older adults. And, unlike real animals, interactive pets operate by batteries and do not need food, water, and trips to the litter box.
Technology Trends Involve Caregivers and Healthcare Providers
While smart technology targets older adults, caregivers are also embracing technology that supports their caregiving duties and helps them understand what seniors need.
Embodied Labs, a California-based company, has found a way to use virtual reality (VR) to give caregivers and healthcare providers insight into the health conditions and personal needs facing older adults.
The company developed an immersive training program in which participants wear VR headsets that offer simulations of what an older adult experiences when challenged with conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related vision and hearing loss, and end-of-life decisions.
Carrie Shaw, the founder of Embodied Labs, says the VR training is designed to not only give participants insight into the problems of older adults but also to improve the way caregivers and healthcare providers deliver care.