Tech Trends in Senior Care
When most people think of senior care, they tend to imagine sedate retirement homes that offer institutional meals along with the occasional opportunity to participate in bingo, arts and crafts, and other “age-appropriate” social events. But that picture is becoming outdated, thanks to recent technological trends and advances that are quickly changing the senior care landscape.
Medical Alert Systems
Study after study has proven that most seniors want to age at home.
Unfortunately, aging at home can also mean living alone — a dangerous proposition for those who suffer from chronic medical conditions, face mobility challenges or are prone to falls. Traditional medical alert systems aim to eliminate these obstacles by allowing users to easily summon help in the event of a fall or other emergency.
But many advanced wearable monitors go much further, providing real-time insight into a senior’s health status and sleep patterns. GPS features on some new systems can even alert caregivers when a loved one with dementia wanders beyond a preset range.
Telemedicine technology utilizes remote monitoring and video-conferencing to allow seniors to stay on top of their medical needs while reducing visits to the doctor. When used in conjunction with medical alert monitoring, patients, doctors, and caregivers can have easy access to blood pressure, blood glucose levels, heart rate, and other vital medical information.
Artificial Intelligence/Internet of Things
Because of advances in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things – smartphones, tablets, smart home technology, and other interconnected gadgets — has become a tremendously useful tool for caregivers and their elderly loved ones. Smart sensors can automatically activate lights whenever someone gets up at night, while the voice activation technology of Google Home and Amazon Alexa is allowing the disabled to more easily operate TVs and other appliances on their own. Most smart systems can even be programmed to provide medication reminders or reminders of upcoming doctors’ appointments.
Software and Web-Based Platforms
Electronic medical and health records have already replaced paper charts at doctor’s offices and hospitals across the United States. New software and web-based platforms not only give seniors and their caregivers’ complete access to their digital records, but they also allow doctors, patients, and caregivers to share and transfer information with just the click of a button. Easy and efficient digital communication can help reduce medical errors, catch drug contraindications and allergies before they cause problems, and detect health trends and patterns to speed diagnosis, as well as treatment.
Security is more important than ever in our increasingly wired world. Senior living facilities and in-home caregivers are using a growing array of email spam filters, sophisticated firewalls, endpoint solution systems, and mobile device management systems to protect seniors from cybercrime and ensure their data remains secure. And more and more, automated and pass-key activated locking doors are helping to ensure their physical safety.
Future Tech Trends in Senior Living
Today’s tech revolution in senior care might only be the tip of the iceberg!
In fact, the so-called “active-aging industry” is expected to triple in the next three years, to nearly $30 billion. While health and remote care are leading the way, wellness and fitness technologies geared towards seniors are expected to become a $900 million market within the next two years.
According to CNBC, some tech startups already generating buzz include:
- Embodied Labs is developing a virtual reality platform that will allow users to take on the persona of an aging person facing a variety of situations, including macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. By providing insight into these and other conditions, the technology will help caregivers develop empathy and improve the delivery of care.
- Intuition Robotics calls its ElliQ robot “a sidekick for happier aging.” The robot uses cognitive artificial intelligence to help seniors stay in touch with family or loved ones, engage in healthy behaviors, remember to take their medications, and stay connected with the outside world.
- Ageless Innovation’s line of “Joy for All” robotic cats and puppies feature sensors that allow these electronic fur babies to interact with a human companion as they would with a live pet. According to the company, studies have shown the robotic animals can be an effective, nontraditional intervention in addressing loneliness among older adults.
- Neuro Rehab VR provides a virtual reality experience for older patients undergoing physical therapy following a stroke, brain injury, or spinal cord injury or who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases. By utilizing machine learning, every exercise is tailored to each patient’s unique therapy needs and abilities.
- Information provided by ToiLabs “TrueLoo” smart toilet seats can alert caregivers when a loved one might be suffering from dehydration and urinary tract infections, as well as infectious diseases like Clostridium difficile and norovirus.