Life-changing technology for older people
26th April 2018
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.Some areas of the UK are ageing at different rates and the counties in the south west of England is some of the oldest in the UK, everyone is looking for ways technology can be adapted to aid older adults.
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.
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 programmed to access garage doors, lighting and appliances.”
The increasing use of virtual assistants within domestic households has paved the way for their use as companions for older adults. Hampshire County Council has trialled giving the products to 50 older adults in the area in an effort to support and curb loneliness in older adults.
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.
Not all robots are large humanoids, instead, they are coming in many different forms in an effort to reassure and comfort older adults. There is a growing trend for robots that are fluffy and designed to be companions in areas where pets cannot go such as care homes or hospitals. The Hasbro cats and dogs allow people to pet and interact with an animal without hygiene and contamination worries. PARO is a seal robot designed to help those with anxiety and dementia among other health concerns.
Some robots do not look like any organic creature people are used to seeing. ElliQ has been specifically designed as a social robot for older adults and it is activated by voice commands. It suggests activities to break up long periods of sedentariness as well as remind people of appointments and allow the family to check in on their relative. ElliQ has been deliberately made to look different and avoids the humanoid model as the designer Yves Beha wanted to avoid a robot that "followed someone around being creepy." Instead, it looks like a friendly and high-quality piece of home furniture with a simple enough exterior that it avoids surprising or disrupting users.
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.
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
Making services virtual
As older adults are transitioning to smart phones, there has been a rise in apps that are geared towards offering them necessary services more seamlessly. Now it is not just food that is a click away, but also key amenities.
Though many people may not feel comfortable without a face-to-face interaction with a medical professional, there has been an interest in translating doctor appointments on to an online platform. Push Doctor is currently a pay as you go system but could be the beginning of cutting waiting times and ensuring people with limited mobility have access to medication.
Relying on public transport is difficult for people who live in rural areas or have limited mobility which can make train travel inconvenient. App-based car services have been around for a couple of years, but recently there have been inroads into how these could be central to improving accessibility for older adults.
In the United States, services like Lyft and Uber have partnered with care services in an effort to find effective ways to support older adults. As there are similar companies in the UK it is hoped they will follow the lead from across the pond and help these taxi alternatives improve lives.
Pharmacy on your doorstep
Regular trips to the pharmacy for repeat prescriptions can be time consuming and inconvenient, especially if they have awkward opening times. Now there are lots of online services that deliver necessary medications to the door. Simple Online Pharmacy delivers prescriptions along with their online doctor service and soon it will come into more regular use.
With rising concerns about mental health especially in older adults, there have been initiatives to help make mental health more accessible. This has seen the advent of online platforms that offer counselling services with therapists across the globe. Plus Guidance offers 24-hour support to its users, with live counselling it is a great opportunity for those who feel less comfortable discussing problematic topics face-to-face or struggle getting out of the home.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
For some further tips and tricks to help out, take a look at this guide to household hacks for older people.
Image Credit: Martial Red.
This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.