Can healthcare companies use tech to care for the elderly?
The portion of the American population aged 65 and older is predicted to reach 19 percent by the year 2030. This is a six percent increase over 2010.
This increasing demographic is prompting many healthcare professionals to think about how to deliver the best care to this growing elderly population.
Fortunately, in recent years technological innovations in the healthcare industry are showing great potential. These solutions are helping providers, families, and the patients themselves as they transition to needing elder care. Here are a few examples.
A tough problem many faced by many children is having to decide whether to honor their parents’ wishes of wanting to continue living in their own homes, while having concerns over their ability to do this safely.
Remote monitoring systems can ease this conflict by providing caregivers information about their elderly relatives well-being.
For example, smart sensors placed on medication bottles can detect whether the patient is taking their medication as prescribed.
Motion sensors can detect falls or unusual periods of inactivity, and send an alert to emergency services or to a family member to follow up on.
Digital pet avatars
It has long been documented that animal-assisted therapy can help humans in many ways, especially when it comes to loneliness in the elderly.
Recently, there has been the rising trend of a unique form of animal-assisted therapy to compete with the traditional forms in elder care. And it comes in the form of digital pet avatars.
Care.coach is a care guidance solution which provides elderly patients with coaching and social support through an avatar-based virtual platform.
The avatar seeks to engage patients, coach them to improve self-management of chronic conditions, reduce loneliness, and provide compassionate, around-the-cloud psycho-social support.
The conversations from the avatar are automated through software algorithms that implement evidence-based best practices. The avatar also reports and alerts information to stakeholders such as clinicians, caregivers, and family members.
The applications of wearable technology in elderly care is growing at great speed. Smart watches are being used to alert patients at the time they’re meant to take their pills, tracking blood pressure, and activity levels.
Wearable technology is also helping senior citizens reduce the risk of falling. According to government estimates, every year one in three people over the age of 65 will experience a fall.
Washington-based Sensoria is developing a brace that uses flexible textile sensors to alert wearers when they are about to lose their balance. Not only will this help reduce injuries, but it will also significantly safe costs. According to government figures, the cost of treating falls in elderly individuals is approximately US$34 billion annually.