Technology Helping the Elderly

There are so many new gadgets and services that are being used to help the elderly transition into the next phase of their life.  According to the UK Office for National Statistics, senior citizens comprise approximately 18 percent of the population; for America, the US Census Bureau’s figure is 14.9 percent;  the World Population Review put the Japanese figure at  26.7 percent.  Estimations for the next 5-10 years are only increasing.

As the elderly’s mobility often wanes and their independence is reduced, technology appears to counter a lot of those issues.  Here we take a look at some of them to figure out what is useful to elderly who encounter decreased levels of mobility; a reduction in cognitive capacity; physical injuries (most notably, falling); sensory impairments and others?

For mobility issues, mobility scooters are an incredible invention.  They were great when they were initially invented but the complaint was often that they were too pricey and bulky. These days prices have decreased and with the advancement of technology, they are small enough to fold up like a stroller and be put in one’s car.

As we age, there is an increase in sensory impairments.  One example of this is hearing reduction that can lead to vertigo and balance issues. Solar Ear helps this, and is better than hearing aids as batteries last between 2-3 years and can be charged via solar panels. For those with deteriorating eyesight, the handheld Intel Reader uses TTS technology to read printed text aloud via a high-resolution camera capturing printed text that it converts to digital text and then reads to the user.

For an ability to communicate according to a study published in PLOS Biology   people suffering from locked-in syndrome may be able to connect to the outside world as it is able to read the brain activity in a new way.  As such, these individuals were able to respond yes or no to questions asked.   This was achieved using frontocentral oxygenation changes measured with fNIRS.

In terms of reducing injuries (primarily by falling) one gadget that has been helping is the Hip’Safe – an airbag used to reduce impact by 90 percent.  This protects the elderly from breaks to the hips.  If one falls, the airbag automatically spreads out above the hips before ground impact.

There are many more devices that help the elderly and even more which are in the development process.  But for now, being old doesn’t necessarily mean having to suffer without great aid.