The desire to stay in your own home as you get older is called “aging in place.” Nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible. More and more companies are coming up with technology that makes it easier for seniors to do just that. Here are some newer technologies that can be helpful to seniors. Please note, this article is provided for informational purposes only. We don’t endorse or recommend any of the products listed.
Apple Watch is a brand line of smart watches developed and produced by Apple Inc. It’s integrated with iOS which run apps used in fitness tracking, wireless telecommunication, and health oriented capabilities. It offers these helpful features for seniors:
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) system capable of detecting whether the wearer is experiencing cardiac abnormalities such as atrial fibrillation.
- Emergency SOS: User can simply hold the side button on the watch to make a call to emergency services and/or loved ones.
- Fall detection capabilities: If Apple Watch detects a fall and no movement after that, the user will receive an alert. If the user doesn’t respond to the alert, Apple Watch will tap the user’s wrist to get them to respond. If no response, it will sound an alarm and call emergency services. The watch then sends a message to the user’s emergency contacts informing them of the fall.
- Plenty of storage capacity for your favorite photos, podcasts, and music tracks.
MedMinder is another technology that helps seniors. It makes it easier for seniors to take their medications in the right amount and at the right time. With visual, audio, and phone alerts, the senior will never need to be reminded when to take their meds again. The product can be filled for several weeks, depending on the number of dosages per day. And a loved one can be notified if the user missed a dosage. MedMinder also offers Medical Alert (two-way voice channel with medical alert professionals), daily weather forecast, and the ability to upload family pictures. www.medminder.com
Alexa Care Hub
The Care Hub, a free feature in the Alexa app that gives you new ways to remotely check in on parents or loved ones. With an Echo device at your loved one’s home and the Alexa app on your phone, you’ll know your loved one is up and active. You can set up alerts to notify you if there’s no activity or when the first interaction happens every day. You can also get notified if they ask Alexa for help. Then you can call or drop in on them through the Care Hub, or decide to contact emergency services.
Other helpful features of Alexa are that the user can ask it to:
- Set a reminder to take their pills
- Keep lists like a grocery list
- Set a timer (e.g., for 10 minutes from now) or set an alarm at a certain time
Google, Apple, and Microsoft also offer the same voice command features that can do a variety of tasks.
GrandPad is an easy-to-use tablet that comes preloaded with the features that seniors need to stay connected to their loved ones. The intuitive interfaces, engaging content, large buttons, and “no frills” design makes it easy for seniors to securely connect with friends and family. This technology helps seniors easily view family photos and videos, play games, see weather for each family member, listen to music, check emails, make phone calls, place a video chat, browse the internet, and much more. GrandPad offers enlarged text for easy reading and its safe from scams and spams since only trusted contacts that the senior invites to their private family network will be able to connect with the GrandPad.
Another technology that helps seniors is BUDDY. BUDDY is an app that runs on your loved one’s smartwatch, like a FitBit. A companion app runs on your smartphone. BUDDY is currently in a public testing phase. Features include:
- Fall detection. When a fall happens, BUDDY sends an alert to family, friends, caregivers, health professionals, and first responders, such as emergency services. The smartwatch wearer can signal to loved ones if everything is alright.
- Medication schedules and reminders. It confirms the schedule of medications and provides reminders to take them.
- Boundary alerts. BUDDY allows loved ones to always know where the smartwatch wearer is by setting designated spots and a safe radius around them for travel. When virtual boundaries are crossed, BUDDY sends an alert to loved ones and caregivers.
- Vitals and code blue. It monitors heart rate and it correlates changes in heart rate with other activity indicators and sends alerts if something is wrong.
- Irregular health patterns. BUDDY uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify the smartwatch wearer’s health baseline. BUDDY then sends alerts when deviations occur for further follow-up with physicians and health professionals as needed. For example, it can learn when a person’s gait changes and then indicate when someone may become a fall risk – before they have a fall.
- Safety alerts. Smartwatch wearers can notify others if they feel unsafe or send an SOS signal for emergency services. The smartwatch sensors provide location information. The app also notifies caregivers and emergency services if a Fitbit wearer’s heart rate rises above or drops below certain thresholds through code blue alerts.
These are just some of the innovations that enable older adults to live better lives at home. With the size of that population growing, it’s exciting to think what new products and services are just around the corner.