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Life-changing technology for the elderly

28th March 2017

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

From transport to the quality of life in senior years; technology is changing everything and with the UK’s population living longer it is helping the elderly to remain independent.

While a flying car hasn’t yet been created, there have been some significant technological advances with new mobile devices, wearable gadgets and security technologies being released to help everyone age.

This guide takes you through some of the different technologies that have changed the life of elderly people and others that are in the pipeline to be released that could make a huge difference to you in the future.

Stairlifts

The creation of straight, outdoor and curved stairlifts has made a huge difference in the way the elderly get around their home.

Now you can live independently in your own home, despite suffering from mobility problems. Going up and down stairs is no longer a daily struggle that takes a lot of time to achieve.

This means that you don’t have to consider living downstairs or moving to a bungalow or ground floor apartment.

Although the stairlift dates back to King Henry VII in the 16th century when his staff had to use ropes and a pulley, the modern stairlift was invented in the 1920s with the use of rollers.

Now stairlifts come with a number of features including perched seats and wireless remote controls.

Voice recognition software

Products powered by voice recognition have had a huge impact on the way people live and Deborah Stone from My Ageing Parent believes this really is a life-changing technology for the elderly.

She says, “Voice recognition software products allow access to any device which is normally controlled by an ordinary remote control.

“Vocalised commands control the electronics in the home, giving hands-free dominion over televisions, consumer electronics, Blu-Ray players, and much more. More advanced voice controlled systems can even be programed to access garage doors, lighting and appliances.”

Robots

Robots could soon be looking after people as they age, relieving the pressures currently put on hospitals and care homes.

According to an article on the Daily Mail website, a new robot called Mario has been created to help look after the elderly and dementia sufferers.

Some of its main attributes include talking about the weather, helping to find your keys and reminiscing about family holidays. The £15,000 robot can play TV programmes, films and comes with a touchscreen computer.

The robot's price could reduce to £5,000 if it is mass produced, but this will only occur if the initial tests taking place across the UK, Ireland and Italy are a success.

There are other robots also being built with a cuddly seal being developed in Hong Kong to provide stimulation, robotic therapy cats being produced in the US and a life-like machine called Nadine being developed as a companion in Singapore.

Walk-in baths

There isn’t anything much more relaxing than taking a nice, warm bath. But it wasn’t quite so enjoyable for the elderly and those with mobility problems before the creation of walk-in baths, as you would worry about slipping or would struggle to get out of an ordinary bath.

The creation of the new walk-in baths have eradicated these worries as baths like the Garda have a built-in, powered seat that moves up and down to help you get in and out of it.

Click n Dig Key Finder

It is so easy to put your keys down somewhere, only to forget where you put them, but the Click n Dig Key Finder quickly finds misplaced items using a colour-coded system.

The new system helps find mobile phones, keys, the TV remote, wallets and lots more. All you have to do is to attach a coloured receiver to the item you always seem to lose and to find it you just have to press the corresponding coloured button on the radio transmitter and the receiver will beep loudly and flash.

The radio frequency works up to 80 feet away and can even penetrate walls and cushions. There are three different models:

- Click 'N Dig D2 Key Finder - a specialised key finder which comes with 2 key ring receivers

- Click 'N Dig E4 Key Finder –this comes with 2 key ring receivers and 2 flat receivers

- Click 'N Dig F6 Key Finder – comes with 3 key ring receivers and 3 flat adhesive receivers

MyDodl

There have been a number of apps that have been developed in recent years to help the older generation and one of the best is the MyDodl app.

It can be downloaded onto a computer, tablet or smartphone to send messages with text, images, video and more.

The app even allows you to invite other family members and friends to join MyDodl so alerts can be sent to them if messages you have sent to an elderly relative haven’t been received.

Check out the below video, which explains how you can sign up to the app and how it works.

If you haven’t been able to go on a day out with the rest of your family or they are on holiday, then you can see what they’ve been up to almost immediately with this simple app.

Riser recliner chairs

It can be tricky getting up from a chair, especially if you have been sitting down for a while.

These worries were eradicated when the riser recliner chair was created, giving you that helping hand.

All new riser recliner chairs are fitted with a single motor, allowing you to move the back of the seat and the footrest, or a dual motor allowing you to operate the back and footrest independently.

There is no need to worry about style either as these type of chairs are now very stylish and can be designed to fit in with the rest of your homes décor.

Personal alarms

Healing takes a lot longer as people age and many seniors fear potentially falling over in their home and taking a long time to recover. It is also a worry for family members who have elderly parents living on their own.

These are some of the reasons the Medical Futurist, Dr. Bertalan Mesko, believes personal alarms are a life-changing technology for the elderly.

Discussing personal alarms, Dr. Bertalan Mesko, talks about how easy it is to get hold of the emergency services. He says, “The user can then press its integrated panic button in an emergency situation to send a message that someone should get some help.”

This technology is quick and extremely easy to install and a user’s call will be answered within seconds – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

GPS Smart Sole

Another great technology that has been created is the GPS Smart Sole.

This creation allows you to wear a sole for a shoe that keeps your family and loved ones up to date as to your whereabouts via their smartphones, tablets or web browser.

The shoe insert is enabled with GPS technology and allows real-time syncing, a detailed report of location history, and allows users to set up a safe radius for their loved one.

My Ageing Parent’s Deborah Stone agrees that devices such as this are a great way to look after the elderly without being by their side.

She adds, “Trackers can keep track of elderly patients without needing to be by their side 24 hours per day. The device is easy to secure on the wrist and looks similar to a watch. If it dies, loses power, or is taken off by the wearer, the caregiver responsible will be notified via telephone. This is an emerging technology which has many promising applications in the years ahead. It remains to be seen if other wearable tech will replace the need for GPS technology, but for now it is a safe way to track aging family members.”

Howz

This clever technology allows you to live independently in your own home for as long as it is safe and sensible, as it allows your family and carers to check on you from miles away.

Howz is a next generation approach as its flexible set of monitoring devices around the home feed into an app. It checks for changes in a person’s normal routine and makes sure that you are up at the usual time, points out that you have been up in the night or haven’t left the front door open.

The system is installed around a person’s needs and if those change, more monitors can be added and alerts can be sent to your family and friends so they can call or visit you to check that everything is ok.

Self-driving cars

There is a new road ahead as self-driving cars are on the verge of hitting roads across the globe.

Autonomous vehicles have been tested for years and this year it was announced that California has proposed regulations to allow fully self-drive vehicles to go on public roads.

This is expected to be the tip of the iceberg, as more and more countries across the world are beginning to look into allowing autonomous vehicles on their roads.

One of the leading firms in this sector is Waymo, Google’s recently renamed self-driving car operation.

Jaime Waydo, head of systems engineering at Waymo, told the Guardian, “It’ll be life-changing once we get this technology.”

Healthcare wearables

Getting to the doctors can be problematic and time-consuming, but there have been a number of technological advancements in healthcare wearables.

Dr. Bertalan Mesko, at the Medical Futurist, says, “MC10 develops a biostamp that is thinner than a Band-Aid, and it has the size of just two postage stamps. You can attach it to any part of the body. The sensors monitor temperature, movements, heart rate, and all these vital signs which can be transmitted wirelessly to an application. In the future, these biostamps might mean the solution to all the data-problems, medical professionals might have today.

He adds, “Intouch health and its telehealth network could also help manage diseases for the elderly. Through its waste network, patients in remote areas or not able to travel have access to high-quality emergency consultations for stroke, cardiovascular, and burn services in the exact time they need it.

“Another device called Canary might also offer remote help. Its monitoring system enables caregivers to keep an eye on elderly people living elsewhere.

Image Credit: Martial Red.