The continuing growth of the senior and elderly populations within the US have been a mixed bag. Lifestyle concerns for the demographics have not gone unheeded. There are over 40 million seniors now and an expected increase of 70 million more in the next decade.
The discussion of home health care vs assisted living centers has intensified lately as well. The quality of life is one of the larger concerns involved in these decisions. The financial concerns are another consideration when deciding a course of care.
When looking at home care options, it is good to be aware of the useful advances in home health technology. We no longer live in a disconnected world and living alone isn't exactly living alone anymore.
How different have things become and what strange future do we live in now? Read on to get a foothold of understanding.
Home Health Care Tech
The aim of much of the technology coming out for seniors looking for a home living and care situation focuses on improved lives.
Too often the medical establishment doesn't take into account the living situation. This is changing, of course, and new studies and standards push for wellness.
Technology aids in the quest for wellness by providing autonomy without sacrificing security. Today's seniors are able to live more independent lives even with strict care needs.
Knowing this, among other things, makes having a conversation about expanded care easier. We all want what is best for the people in our lives, and we all know that conversations about restrictions are tough to take.
The following technology benefits your peace of mind and the seniors in your life in several ways. This list will cover advances in computer AI, routine care, emergency care, and wearable tech.
You find artificial intelligence in more and more devices these days. With the rise of computer technology in the late 1970s, every two years has seen a jump in processing power. True AI emerged in the early 2000s.
These powerful programs help organize and negotiation data to benefit users. any time you do a search online you are using AI to help make decisions.
These handy programs offer wide-ranging benefits when used in technology for the elderly. Though AI exist in many of the technologies we cover below, it is the central component of virtual assistants and virtual companions.
Programs such as Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri represent mainstream virtual assistants. They are sometimes referred to as smart-dumb tech. They are limited in their interaction and mostly serve as ambassadors to other information sources.
The benefit of virtual assistants as senior care products is in keeping information easy to access. You access virtual assistants in multiple ways. Voice and text searches both work with output being offered in text and audio forms as well.
Assistants have Internet and wireless connectivity, meaning that a senior is always connected to a network in case of emergency.
A step up from simply doing rote tasks and providing information upon request, a virtual companion has non-set responses. You talk to the companion and it responds, remembering information from past conversations and adding novel responses.
With programmable interfaces and looks, you design the person you want to spend time with. Much like having a pet, the idea of a willing ear does wonders for maintaining emotional well-being and avoiding a sense of isolation.
Companies providing voice-based programs list full sets of features. Check out the Orbita Health whitepapers.
Virtual companions call out if no responses are received when in safety mode. They provide vocal reminders for routines and medications.
Virtual companions don't simply react, they also think and record. As diagnostic tools, they monitor behavior patterns, sleep, appetite, and more. They report this data to health care providers, giving long-term data for helping sport problems early.
A specific device that uses a combination of AI and rote learning programming is the smart pill boxes. These lock during times when they are not needed, preventing accidental double dosing.
You set them to give out voice and/or tone alarms when it is time for medications. Products range in functionality with the top of the line offering wireless connectivity to other devices such as phones, alerting seniors from any room or even outside the home.
Doctors rely on a wide variety of tests and constant flow of information to keep up on the health of seniors. Many of the tests that benefit doctors aren't intrusive on their own, but the process of engaging with a patient and asking for the information is.
Enter smart diagnostic devices which collect this information without being intrusive. For limited mobility seniors, being able to collect information without frequent trips out of the house saves a lot of time. Not to mention frustration.
For those living with diminished capacities or those that become frustrated and confused when a routine is interrupted, adding the diagnostics invisibly to the routine is essential.
The following devices collect and transmit data for diagnostic purposes without adding anything to a seniors day.
While you might consider issues of privacy intrusion, remember it is much easier to provide information alone than it is to an audience.
Advanced smart toilets collect samples of your business and scan for problems. A typical smart toilet isn't a future device but is routinely used to give real-time results for urologists, for example.
Collecting waste for tests is a touchy subject for many. It is humiliating and embarrassing to collect. However, the essential information it provides has a long-standing history in medicine.
With a smart toilet, the loop stays nice and closed. You get all of the advantages of collected samples and test data by using the toilet the same as ever.
Smart mirrors look for differences in expression and symmetry day after day. The mirrors take photos and send the information to a comparative database.
Over time they detect small abnormalities and changes in micro expressions that provide warnings for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and even heart defects.
Living in the Internet age, we benefit from unparalleled interconnectivity. The intrusive nature isn't always ideal, but knowing where children and seniors are at any given time provide a lot of freedom.
As technology for elderly individuals, it isn't just about alerts and alarms, but taking active steps to remedy issues as they arise.
Self-driving cars still have a bit of a way to go before we accept them as foolproof. Even now they are safer than regular cars or public transportation but high profile crashes still make the news.
Self-driving cars don't have to be fully autonomous. For years the idea of technology like anti-lock breaks and turn compensation have existed to prevent overcorrection and skidding on ice.
With assisted driving, the car alerts or adjusts for the driver's mistakes. This allows a senior to drive without the associated higher risk that comes with impairments in timing and reflexes from age. Many seniors can enjoy decades more time at the heel with smart and self-driving cars.
Whether insurance companies will see it that way and adjust rates is yet to be seen.
Additionally, self-driving cars can be set with preset destinations. This allows a senior to get to emergency care at the touch of a button. Though this depends on if they are in the vehicle or have the time to make it to the vehicle.
Response times for emergency conditions can be halved. The elderly can go directly to the emergency care, instead of waiting for care to arrive which then has to take them to a facility.
Global positioning systems have gotten more accurate over the last thirty years. Now they are good for a few meters in most places.
Information can be sent tethered to GPS markers, allowing accurate tracking for finding seniors that wander or have issues with mobility. Live feeds are used to watch for movement patterns and track changes in routine.
GPS devices don't only find use in the presence of the elderly themselves. Home care workers wear them so that they can be tracked for arrivals and departures.
Knowing how far away help is ads a lot to mental stability. it also works to keep workers accountable for patient care.
GPS outfitted with specific programs detect if a person has fallen. This sends out alerts to summon help and pinpoint the location of the fallen person. They also feature proximity and area alarms to provide you a heads up if a person leaves a specified area.
If putting a device on a person seems too invasive, cameras can fill in the gaps. Cameras have wireless capabilities and can alert when a person leaves designated zones.
CAmeras can also track speed as well as record movement. A camera can send an alert in the case of a fall or activate to show a seizure.
The longevity of small cameras is in the hundreds of hours of both storage and battery, meaning they can also work in power outages to give you real-time monitoring if needed.
Even more, devices use Internet connectivity to transfer useful information that upgrades home health care. These devices provide benefits without being intrusive.
for the most part, wearables are expected to be used for periods of time but not become ubiquitous.
Some wearables, like the Lifeline series of products, have been around for a long time and are meant to be small and continuously worn. Others, like Fitbits or other exercise monitors, get intermittent use.
Specifically useful for people dealing with limitations from diabetes or heart disease, these monitors offer painless alternatives to specific monitoring.
There are more than a handful of devices, each using a slightly different non-invasive method of detecting glucose levels. These devices improve health by providing accurate results and avoiding constant small wounds.
They also provide mobility and freedom by being compact and requiring fewer items to be carried at any given time. They can even deliver results in real time, alerting a user when their levels spike or dip into dangerous areas.
These devices correspond with new FDA guidelines on testing and management of comorbidities.
Watches do more than measure pulse and count steps, though those are useful applications of the technology many enjoy.
Watches are great places to house GPS for the abovementioned functionalities. They are small and easy to wear, which makes them comfortable to wear all the time.
Much like key fobs for cars, these can be outfitted with RFID trackers and chips that can be used to open doors, alert cameras, or interact with pillboxes.
Smartwatches provide solid housing for many of the senior care products already mentioned in a small package.
Technology isn't done improving home health care. While this article went over real and practical technologies that can be used now, more are in development. The future is, as always, an undiscovered place.
As health care evolves and our elderly populations grow, it is nice to know there is an entire industry that keeps them in mind.
When making decisions about yourself or your loved ones, always seek out the best information. If you want to know more about home care options, contact us for a free assessment with your questions.