By 2050 in the United States alone, 83.7 million people will be 65 years old or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So, it’s not a surprise that there is an emerging market of innovations helping seniors live their lives better.
These technologies enable seniors to engage in life, stay safe, and connect emotionally with their friends and family. Some of the innovations I’ve seen are so interesting, I wanted to share them with you. Please note, this article is provided for informational purposes only. We don’t endorse or recommend any of the products listed.
Virtual Reality Experiences
Rendever, a startup at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), uses virtual reality to lessen the feeling of isolation older adults can have. It’s bringing this technology to seniors living in assisted living communities.
Participants can either control the experience themselves or participate in a group experience led by programming teams. A person can choose from different experiences, such as being a spectator at a sports game, educational activities, and even travel. Travel opportunities include visiting Paris or going into space (a collaboration with NASA).
Recently, residents at Benchmark Living right outside of Boston got to experience what the Patriots Super Bowl LIII victory parade looked like from the perspective of being in a duck boat at the parade. There were a lot of smiles and laughter from the participating residents–several of whom even waved to the crowd from their seats on the duck boat.
Families can also use existing 3-D virtual reality cameras, which provide a 360-degree image, to photograph family events like weddings. Then that footage can be used with Rendever’s software to help the senior feel immersed in the event alongside their loved ones. rendever.com
Eat Well Dining Set
Flatware, cups, bowls, and a tray were created to help people with limited limb movement as well as those with Alzheimer’s disease. This dining set has 21 features designed to make eating easier for this population. Every design detail is based on a finding or discovery made during the four-year development process.
40% of people with Alzheimer’s tend to lose a lot of weight. They can have difficulty distinguishing dishes from the food, so the insides of the bowls are blue because there are few blue foods. Research indicated that high-contrast red and blue tableware appeared to stimulate the appetite in people with Alzheimer’s disease, so the set is blue, red, and yellow. The bowls and flatware are curved at specific angles to make it easier to scoop up food. eatwellset.com
Liftware Steady is an electronic stabilizing handle with attachments that include a soup spoon, everyday spoon, fork, and spork. It helps anyone who has hand tremors, including those who have Parkinson’s Disease, eat a meal. The handle is programmed to move to compensate for the user’s shaking hand. Liftware Steady enables the utensil to shake 70% less than the hand holding it. liftware.com
The Tango Belt
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Hip fractures can often be the result of those falls.
Hip pads help prevent fractures, but they can be very obtrusive so they often aren’t worn. The Tango belt is a product being used in senior care facilities. It’s worn around the waist and automatically deploys airbags for physical protection when it senses a fall. The belt also alerts caregivers if a fall occurs. They are also working on a new feature: having the belt gather data to monitor key rehabilitation and mobility metrics, which would help staff better monitor how a person is doing in their effort to increase mobility. tangobelt.com
NuEyes Pro Smart Glasses
These are lightweight glasses that are voice activated for the visually impaired. They’re helpful for people with macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and other visual conditions. A video camera on the front of the glasses magnifies what the user is looking at and displays it on the inside of the glasses. The wearer can control them by a remote or using their voice. When looking at text, the smartglasses can even read the text out loud to the user. nueyes.com
These are just some of the innovations that enable older adults to live better lives. With the size of that population growing, it’s exciting to think what new products and services are just around the corner.