Smart technologies that promote independence for seniors and their caregivers
For a demographic that didn’t grow up reliant on technology, it’s ironic that gadgets and gizmos can now help the aging population lead more independent lives. New advances in technology are allowing seniors to “age in place,” and remain where they want to live. With 40 percent of adults 85 and older in the U.S. living alone according to AARP, the business of aging in place is only expected to grow. The Consumer Technology Association predicts that technology related to active aging will reach $30 billion by 2022.
These advances can give peace of mind to adult children who are caring for their parents, and make it more comfortable and safe for seniors to live alone. Here, we’ll go over a few essential categories of smart technology for seniors to keep them safe and independent in the comfort of their own home.
Imagine a high-tech pill box that only unlocks the dispensers when it’s time for medication to be taken, and can be programmed to beep as a reminder. This is the MedMinder, which is a monthly rental system for those who need help with sticking to their medication schedule. It can even be programmed to alert your phone when medications aren’t taken, which could be an essential feature for seniors with Alzheimer’s.
For a little less robust of a system, there are several medication reminder apps available for seniors and caregivers with smartphones. Medisafe is one such app that stands out for its user-friendly configuration. An essential feature can even alert the user when certain drug interactions are unsafe.
This sort of technology is a big plus for caregivers and families that have a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The need for constant supervision isn’t as much of a burden when GPS devices can track a person’s location with the watch they’re wearing, the shoes they leave the house with, or even a discreet keychain that can be attached to their coat.
GPS Smart Sole is one such technology that fits in the sole of a shoe, such as sneakers or whatever pair is the most likely to be worn. Should your senior wander, you’ll know where to find them.
There are so many smart watches on the market with GPS trackers that it can be difficult to choose from all of the options. There’s a wide range in price and technology levels, from watches under $30 that can track location from an app, to ones that record fitness and sleep patterns for close to $200.
One watch designed specifically with seniors in mind is the Medical Guardian Freedom Guardian Smartwatch. It has a GPS device and an SOS button that will notify any emergency contacts, and can be set up to alert the user about doctor’s appointments and medication reminders. The watch also features some texting capabilities.
For more of these devices, Senior Link has an extensive list of the best GPS tracking technologies that range from high tech to the more user-friendly options.
Emergency alert systems
Many of us have seen the “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” commercials on TV from Life Alert. This is one of the many personal emergency response systems out there today, some of which have evolved to not only connect to emergency services, but to share information such as existing medical conditions with EMTs upon activation.
On the more discreet end of devices, Revolar Instinct Personal Safety Device is a keychain button that can be pushed to send a message that everything is okay, or to send for help. It’s enabled through a smartphone app through which you can customize the messages.
Now that you and your loved one are equipped with some knowledge of technologies that promote independence and safety, the only thing that might be lacking from living alone is regular human connection. To get some sort of community without the financial burden and commitment of a nursing home, virtual retirement communities are a good option for seniors who still maintain a certain level of independence but could use a lower level of care. Help with errands, guides for exercise regimes, and in-person meetups are just a few of the offerings.