Technology shapes our lives. Virtually every industry can benefit from using the latest tech developments, and that includes elder care. Whether you’re a physician seeking new ways to care for your patients or an innovator looking for inspiration, learning about the latest and greatest technological advances in elder care empowers you to do your job more effectively. Of course, health tech is meaningless if it doesn’t produce better outcomes and greater efficiencies.
There are a number of straightforward and not-so-obvious tech solutions that are improving elder care. Here’s our look at the field.
One of the biggest challenges faced by caretakers is preventing seniors from wandering and becoming lost. Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia often lead to confusion and memory loss, which can result in elderly people leaving their residences unaccompanied by their caregivers.
Modern GPS devices are much smaller than the typical GPS units used in vehicles. They can be planted discreetly in strategic locations so that seniors can be found if they wander. For example, there are GPS units that fit under the soles of shoes, or they can even be ironed into clothing. Seniors can even get lost in familiar places, and GPS units ensure that they’re found quickly.
These days, there’s an app for everything. Caregivers and elders can use apps for a variety of purposes, including monitoring location, heart rate and medication intake. Apps can also send important data to caretakers, physicians and family members, so they can stay apprised of the senior’s condition in real-time.
One common concern is that modern smartphones may be too complicated for seniors, especially those with dementia and other cognitive limitations. Fortunately, there’s a solution. There are smartphones and tablets on the market that are made specifically with senior citizens in mind. They’re simplified devices with larger buttons and user-friendly features.
GPS units help locate seniors when they wander, but wander and fall prevention devices can help prevent problems before they occur. For example, a caretaker could put a wander prevention sensor pad under a senior’s mattress. If the patient gets out of bed (or falls), the device sends a notification to the caretaker.
There are central monitoring units that can be used to notify caretakers of movement, and there are also wireless devices that caretakers can keep on their person while they make the rounds. This ensures that notifications are received immediately, so fast action can be taken to rectify the issue.
There are many different devices that can help a senior citizen to stay safe living at home. Stove shutoff devices allow elderly people to cook meals at home without worry. If the device detects that the stove has been on for too long, it shuts off the stove automatically.
Another useful home safety device is an automatic pill dispenser. If it’s not possible for a family member or caretaker to monitor a senior’s medication intake, an automatic dispenser prevents accidental overdoses and medication abuse. They open only at specific times throughout the day, and they can provide visual and/or audio notifications when it’s time to dose.
The internet of things (IoT) spans some of the most exciting up-and-coming technologies. For example, smart bulbs can be integrated with the internet, allowing users to do things like control your lights with their smartphones or even play music through them.
The internet of medical things (IoMT) uses that same concept, only for medical devices. These devices create a more connected ecosystem, allowing patients, caretakers, family members, payers and providers to communicate and share data more effectively. This set of tools, of course, includes everything from traditional medical devices that are now connected to the internet to artificial intelligence-driven smart speakers.
Devices that are connected to the internet can provide valuable real-time data about vital signs, dietary habits, exercise regimens and other information that may not be immediately accessible otherwise.
With so many different types of technology available on the market today, finding and selecting the best options isn’t always easy. The best approach is to analyze any existing problems and then seek out technology that solves them.
Beyond just looking for problems, healthcare providers, innovators and caretakers can brainstorm processes that could be streamlined. There’s a good chance that the tech to facilitate their goals already exists. Be sure to keep your ear to the ground so you can be informed about the latest and greatest advancements in healthcare. That’s the key to delivering exceptional work — for those who work in elder care or hope to disrupt the space.
About the Author
Chris Scalise is a technical writer and content curator from Los Angeles, California. In addition to providing content on behalf of leading brands, he frequently writes for a number of health publications, including 1Heart Caregiver Services, covering the emerging developments in health, wellness, science and technology. Check out his profile here.
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