Technology for Aging In Place
It’s getting easier for older adults to age in place thanks to the technology that helps seniors with their daily activities. For instance, an automatic pill dispenser can remind seniors when it’s time to take their medication. By tapping a smartphone button, older adults can see who’s ringing their doorbell without even going to the door.
It’s not just about tech firms designing new products for seniors. It’s more about marketing existing products that would be useful to older adults, according to Aging and Health Technology’s 2020 market overview report.
As an example, existing electronic devices like smartphones, virtual assistants, and in-home sensors are heavily marketed. Seniors, their family members, and caregivers can learn how to use these devices along with other products and services to benefit older adults.
For instance, the LifePod voice-first, virtual caregiving service helps family members and caregivers use a smartphone to remotely manage an older adult’s daily schedule, medications, appointments, activities, and entertainment.
Bundling smart home technology with tech-enabled products and services can improve the health, safety, and quality of life for older adults, said Laurie M. Orlov, who founded the market research firm in 2009.
Aging in Place With Help of Technology
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines aging in place as: “The ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”
A growing number of older adults prefer staying in their homes as long as possible instead of moving into a long-term residential facility. A report from Kaiser Health News found that about 47 million seniors are aging in place, compared to 1.4 million older adults in nursing homes, and 812,000 in assisted living facilities.
Aging in place, however, can bring about feelings of isolation and loneliness for older adults. This has become more pronounced over the past few months with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Public health officials warned adults over 65 years old and people with underlying medical conditions to shelter in place to avoid the risk of exposure to the virus.
As a safety measure, family members, and in some cases, caregivers, kept their distance and did not come over to visit. So, some families began subscribing to technology services designed to keep seniors safe and help them with daily activities.
Some of the tech-enabled products and services include:
Video doorbells allow seniors to see, hear, and speak to visitors by using an app on their smart devices. Some doorbells, like the Ring Video Doorbells, have built-in motion detectors that activate when the device senses a visitor on the porch.
The battery-operated doorbells have a built-in speaker and microphone. Some video doorbells work with or without a WIFI Internet connection.
External Security Cameras
Just as a video doorbell can show a visitor on the porch, security cameras help homeowners view the perimeter of their home. The security cameras can be installed at various points around the house, and send alerts over smart devices
The wireless cameras stream the video feed on smart devices. Some security cameras, such as Reolink Argus 2, have night vision software that streams video in black and white at night.
What’s more, the WIFI Internet connection allows family members remote access to the video footage via their smartphones or tablets. Costs of security systems vary based on the number of cameras and accessories purchased with the system.
Older adults and caregivers alike will appreciate an automatic pill dispenser. The dispensers have compartments to load and lock in pills and caplets of various sizes. The product sends visual or audio alerts, via a smartphone app, prior to the time to take the medication.
Dispensers, like Pria, release medication only after verifying identification through facial recognition and a PIN code.
Personalized Reminder Devices
A reminder device is useful for seniors in the early stages of dementia or those who simply forget things due to the normal aging process. Many devices, like “Reminder Rosie,” have talking alarm clocks that announce the time and day at the push of a button.
Some devices come with preloaded messages and an option for family members to create customized messages to remind their loved ones when to take medication, prepare meals, get ready for appointments, or other things. The personalized message can also remind seniors of birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions.
Medical Alert and Check-In Services
A major concern of older adults and their family members is what would happen if they had a medical emergency. To alleviate those fears, seniors and their family members are subscribing to medical alert service or check-in service.
Wearable medical devices, whether in the form of a necklace or smartwatch, allow seniors to press a button and initiate a call to a monitoring center. The operator assesses the situation and calls for an ambulance if needed.
With a check-in service, seniors receive a phone call at a specified time each day. If the senior does not answer after several attempts, the check-in service calls a designated family member or caregiver. If the relative or caregiver does not answer, the service contacts the local police department and asks them to do a wellness check on the senior.
Fall and Fire Prevention Alert Systems
Prevention alert systems generally work with sensors.
For instance, the Walabot HOME, which is mounted on the wall, monitors and detects falls using sensors. Seniors do not need to wear a device or push a button because the system calls an emergency contact for them.
Fire prevention systems work in a similar manner. For example, CookStop by Assisted Living Technologies automatically shuts off the stove to prevent a fire when unattended cooking or smoke is detected.
The aging-in-place technology industry is expected to grow to nearly $30 billion in the next few years, according to the Consumer Technology Association’s “Active Aging: Consumer Perceptions and Attitudes” study.
The 2019 study claims health and remote care will “lead the initiative,” and wellness and fit technologies for seniors are expected to reach around $900 million by 2022.