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Can technology support the elderly more?

17th February 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Look around and it seems that every bright young thing has their head down and fixed on their phone, personal music player or whatever that latest gadget is. Technology is seemingly a young person’s game, but with its life-changing potential, does the industry need to realise its benefit for the older generation too?

You probably rely on technology more than you know. Later in life, we start to depend on equipment that can support the health issues that come with maturity, such as memory loss or reduced mobility. It’s not uncommon for people to install a home stair lift to help with moving around the house as they get older, for instance.

As the industry stands, mature users are often neglected with tech giants looking to entice a younger audience with a longer consumer life. That’s not to say that no one is listening to the needs of the elderly, in fact, there are several burgeoning companies looking to dedicate their expertise to the older generation.

For example, former Yahoo chief technology officer Ashfaq Munshi is currently developing a device that would allow users to make voice-activated commands. The little-known company sees the listening system as a possible contender for those suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, either answering questions such as “What time will my care worker be here?” for those who may struggle to recall such details or as a health monitor able to pick up on a change in speech patterns that may be the result of increasing memory loss or an undetected minor stroke.

Likewise, researchers in Bristol are working on a driverless car project for older motorists, automated to help the elderly or those with reduced mobility lead more independent lives in their later years.

Currently the market technology produced for older clientele includes personal alarms, a wave of wearable gadgets designed to monitor health vitals and many modes of accessibility equipment. All useful products undoubtedly, but the tech industry could do more to provide comfort for older adults and help them maintain their self-sufficiency for longer. Hopefully, the signs of new aging gadgets in the pipeline are just the start and other like-minded companies will follow suit, applying technology that can improve lives later on.