Have you heard? New population projections estimate that for the first time in the history of the U.S. there will be more adults over 65 by the year 2035 than children. This demographic shift isn’t going unnoticed, especially by the health and technology industries.
As rates of chronic disease also rise, it’s no surprise that mobile health technologies and digital tools are exploding on the marketplace for seniors and their caregivers. Don’t miss this essential list of 4 tech tools for senior health and safety:
Medical Alert Systems
2016 data from the Pew Research Center reveals that over 60% of seniors strive to “age in place,” which simply means they have goals of remaining in their homes and avoiding having to move to an assisted living or long-term care facility. Aging in place is largely dependent, however, on factors like the strength of a senior’s mobility as well as access to a care network (family, friends, private caregivers).
One helpful tech tool that provides seniors who age in place peace of mind is a medical alert system that contacts help in the event of an emergency. Available in a wider array of online and brick and mortar stores than ever before, medical alert systems come in many forms and sizes – from freestanding call devices that sit on a kitchen counter, to portable pendants that can be worn outside the home.
Digital Monitoring Tools
Monitoring baseline vital signs is becoming more and more commonplace among seniors who are proactive about managing their health. Advancements in design and engineering have also improved the accessibility, efficiency, and accuracy of digital health tools like thermometers, blood pressure and blood sugar monitors, and pulse oximeters.
Did you know that 1 in 4 seniors has diabetes? Or that the risk of high blood pressure increases with age putting millions of seniors at risk of developing heart disease? Or that one-third of seniors deaths in the U.S. result from common infections like pneumonia, UTI, or the flu? Routine monitoring of blood sugar levels and blood pressure specifically can play an important role in helping seniors stave off chronic conditions like stroke and even dementia, as well as equip them with the knowledge to have meaningful and effective discussions with their doctors about their care.
Medicine Adherence Tools
Adhering to a prescribed drug treatment plan can mean the difference between a senior successfully managing their chronic condition or ending up in the hospital with life-threatening complications. Unfortunately, however, more and more seniors struggle to keep up with complicated drug regimens due to factors like lack of caregiver support, confusing medicine schedules, lack of communication with doctors, and well, simply forgetting to.
A host of tech tools address this challenge of medicine non-adherence including smartphone applications and “smart pill bottles.” Apps that seniors and their caregivers can download to their mobile devices to help with taking pills include MediSafe, Pillboxie, and CareZone. With features like pill and prescription refill reminders as well as appointment calendars and secure medical ID information storage, medicine adherence apps are a must in the digital age. Smart pill bottles similarly alert seniors when it’s time to take medicine, featuring components like digital countdowns on lids that track the times a pill bottle has been opened.
Computers and Internet
While many seniors commonly use their computer or laptop for checking the weather and daily news, these very basic tech tools can also serve a vastly more important service – connecting lonely seniors with other people. Millions of seniors report feeling lonely, socially isolated, even anxious or depressed in large part due to minimized contact with others. Everything from mobility issues to no longer having a driver’s license can impact a senior’s ability to get out and about, which is where computers can help.
Free video chat services like Skype, Facetime, and Google+ Hangouts that work on most digital devices (i.e. computers, tablets, smartphones) make it relatively easy to connect with friends and family near and far, having real conversations face to face. Internet access and a digital device also allow seniors to engage on social media, whether it’s joining a private Facebook support group or checking out what events are coming to the local senior center.
Aging in place safely and with little health complications is becoming more of a reality for seniors thanks to technological advancements. Digital tools and virtual solutions will continue to disrupt the healthcare industries and help them adapt to a more patient-centered approach to senior wellbeing.