We are increasingly becoming aware that as people age and technology advances, quality of life is improving for seniors. One example of this combo at work is the “smart home and on-demand economy,” which, in some cases is transforming seniors’ homes into cyber castles.
What does this mean exactly?
Rather than the elderly grandfather moving in with the family (which brings with it a whole slew of complications), they can remain at home but be as if they are with family as their grown children can watch them get up, go and make a cup of coffee, leave the house etc. All that is required is an app that will alert the “caretaker” if something seems amiss. This way the older person will feel safe without feeling invaded. The younger generation will not fret so much but at the same time will not have to adapt their lives to their parent and everyone is happier.
One of the companies involved in offering this service is Sensera Inc. – “an integrated fast-turnaround client-specific designer and manufacturer of specialized high performance micro-sensors and micro-fabricated components for the Healthcare, Industrial, Defense and Aerospace markets” – which seeks to “catch little things before they become big discomforts and big costs for the provider.” For example if the person is going to the bathroom more often than not; if the way they walk has changed (that could indicate an imminent fall), etc. So basically when these nuances are picked up early enough (which, incidentally, would less likely happen if the person is living with the family as they would not necessarily be looking out for it), then algorithms from the app can alert the caretakers to engage in interventions.
There is so much more that technology is helping – and will help with the elderly which is especially timely since we keep hearing about how the elderly will make up a substantially larger part of the populace by as early as 2020. It will help with preventive care, especially hospitalization.
What also must be realized is that while it’s the youth who seem to love and use technology and social media the most, it’s really the elderly who could stand to reap the most benefits. Think about it: Facebook is an open door for anyone who feels isolated to connect, as Aging 2.0 representative Katy Fike noted. Thankfully so far, more than a third of 65+ Americans are using social media but more need to learn how to use it.