Given our technology age, it is no surprise that there are a number of gadgets on the market designed to help those who are aging or may need a little extra help remembering or tracking things to do.
One of the tools that can provide much-needed assistance is the Lifeline pendant. This ingenious tool enables a person to simply wear it and press it in case of a slip and fall or other greater medical emergency. Created by Phillips, this tool is touted as the #1 medical alert gadget of our time. If you find yourself in need of immediate assistance, you simply press the button and you will be connected with an individual who will then establish a two-way communication and call either a loved one, a neighbor or emergency services.
This gadget can really provide some peace of mind for those who have a medical condition or who have a history of being unsteady on their feet. Watch this market because there are several other competitors that provide a variety of monitors and activity sensors that provide similar tools.
There is also a burgeoning market that focuses on intelligent phones that display not only a picture of the person who is calling but also your relationship to the caller and other helpful information that can help someone with recall or memory issues. This kind of device can be enormously helpful to those with memory issues feel more comfortable picking up the phone because even if they don’t recall immediately, they are given a variety of tools to help them establish their connection with the caller.
There is also an initiative to help tutor seniors on texting and other tools that can help them connect with their grandchildren. One of the most popular phones for senior use is the Jitterbug, which has larger keys and very streamlined options that are focused on voice commands and very easy to use “yes” or “no” prompts from the phone. Pricing is very competitive and geared toward fixed income individuals.
Another novel idea that is being developed is the online medicine cabinet. Accenture is looking into using the power of the internet and facial recognition software to tailor medicine cabinets to respond in real time. It’s hard to imagine, but given the state of our current technology, not out of the question. The online medicine cabinet would have the capabilities to identify through sensors whether an individual grabbed the wrong medicine bottle, or even is taking the medicine at the wrong time of the day.
Additionally, the medicine cabinet would enable an individual to take vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, etc. and to share that information via the internet with their health and wellness providers. According to Accenture’s website, the online medicine cabinet may also suggest to the individual to schedule an appointment with the doctor based on trending data it collects or even provide environmental data such as pollen count to those with hay fever, etc.
Given the issues that arise from taking the wrong medicine or taking the wrong amount of medicine, this technology has the potential to provide a lot of relief to those who need it.
If you’re not quite up for the online medicine cabinet, you may benefit from the automated pill dispensers that are available today. There are several on the market, including one by Phillips, the creator of the Lifeline. Automated pill dispensers can remind an individual not only to take their medication, but also provide additional instructions such as whether it is to be taken on an empty stomach or with food.
The automated pill dispensers are great for individuals who need help remembering or who have complicated medicine schedules or combinations. The systems can alert you via voice commands, text messages as well as flashing lights on the system itself. Additionally, if a dose is missed, the interactive system can call individuals on the call list to alert them.
For any of you who remember Rosie from the Jetsons, we’re still a ways away from having a personalized robot in our homes, but field studies as already have been in progress for a nursing version of a robot. In fact our very own University of Michigan is one of four universities who is involved with this research project. Pearl, as the robot is known, has been working at the Longwood Retirement Community in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, and helps the residents with a variety of facets of living their daily lives.
The idea isn’t to replace human nurses with nursebots, but given our aging society, we are without question going to need additional assistance in the coming years. So far, the research looks promising. For more information on Pearl and this exciting research initiative, visit http://www.thematuremarket.com/SeniorStrategic/Robot_nurse_escorts_schmoozesthe_elderly-5260-5.html. Unbelievably, there are other similar research initiatives occurring elsewhere in the world.
There are also new sensor-based systems that will alert you when your mail has been delivered. Great not only for seniors but for anyone who has a really long drive-way, this tool sends a signal when the mailman opens your mailbox door. And although we can already envision a new type of prankery by middle school children should these tools become a standard for us, we do believe they can be very beneficial!
As you might imagine, another area of increased focus is on the development of additional technology for walkers. Many seniors use walkers to help with needed stability or support when walking. The walkers in research and development today will enable seniors to use walkers that sense when additional support is needed. They also can help to steer an individual away from obstacles in their path.
The research and development that is being supported right now is spectacular because it focuses on ensuring the individual is assisted but does not feel like they are losing independence. There are also initiatives underway to provide assistance with walkers in instances where the walkers have fallen, through remote control services to get the walker back to the individual. For additional information regarding the types of research being conducted, a great article can be found at http://marc.med.virginia.edu/projects_eldercarerob.html.