Technology is no longer geared towards the youth. Today, it is multi-generational in outlook and helps people of all ages meet their goals. As the American population ages, technology is set to play a greater role in the life of senior citizens. The 2010 Census projected that people aged 65 and above would account for 13% of the population today. It also expected that this number will swell to 20% by 2050. A report by the National Institute of Aging found that 40% of seniors have a disability.
Supporting so many seniors in the future will be tough on the nation and on their families. Fortunately, healthcare technology can offer a solution and help ease the burden. Better yet, most of these seniors will have used technology growing up and at work. So using it after retirement will not be a problem. Here are five technologies that can change healthcare for seniors.
1) Remote Monitoring Devices
Remote devices lessen the burden of monitoring infirm or disabled seniors. Armbands that track everything from heartbeat, to falls, hours slept, level of activity, and steps taken are available today. They even come with a panic button in case of emergencies. Seniors can also use gadgets to measure blood sugar and blood pressure. Sensors placed on window and doors can alert family members when seniors with Alzheimer’s leave the house. Family members, law enforcement, and healthcare professionals can then use a GPS tracker worn on the Alzheimer’s patient to track him or her down.
2) Telehealth Systems
Disabled and infirm seniors can now use video conferencing to connect with doctors and specialists. Modern telehealth systems are easy to use and only require an internet-enabled mobile device to work. Once in place, doctors can remotely conduct checkups and go over test results with their patients.
3) Health Care Informatics
Health informatics seeks to improve healthcare services through the collection, storage, and retrieval of health-related information. A good example of healthcare informatics is the electronic health record (EHR) system which collects and stores health data. The data is then shared by healthcare providers using the health information exchange (HIE) system. This collaboration in the health industry results in better care and outcomes for senior citizens.
4) Social Media
Loneliness affects many seniors. Their children and grandchildren often live far away and only visit a few times in a year. With social media, they can connect with their families and relatives. But some hurdles do exist. For one, less than one in five seniors own a smartphone. They are also put off by the privacy and commercialization issues facing many social platforms. This has led to the development of senior-friendly social apps like Senior Maze, Cool Grandma, and My Boomer Place.
5) Technology to Help with Household Chores
Having robotic household staff is still a long way off into the future, but technology to ease the burden of household chores does exist. Take the iRobot family of products for instance. It comprises of machines that can do the vacuuming, scrub and mop floors, and do some outdoor work. Companies like Otosense make wearable devices that convert sounds into visual and tactile signals. With these devices, a senior can better distinguish the sound of a doorbell and a telephone ring among others.
Better healthcare means that more people are living to an advanced age. The age demographics of many nations are changing as a result. A significant percentage of their populations now comprises of people above the age of 65. Taking care of many senior citizens is no easy task. It puts a burden on families and the healthcare system.
Fortunately, technology can help ease this burden. It can help with household chores, monitoring the infirm. Seniors can also use technology to communicate with their families and doctors.
Updated: December 14, 2016