Technology has made our lives better, simpler — and longer. Besides playing a vital role in extending average human life expectancy, tech advancements are also the key to improving the quality of life and care for senior citizens.
According to AHR, around 17% of the US population (over 55 million adults) in 2021 were seniors. By 2040, another 20 million US citizens will be 65 or older.
As the human lifespan continues to grow longer, technology will get to play an integral role in assisting seniors to do daily activities more comfortably, live independently for much longer, and fight common age-related illnesses.
In this article, we will explore the immense role technology plays in modern elderly care medical systems.
Tech Applications in Senior Care
From diagnostics and medical procedures to daily patient treatment and monitoring, technology has found vast applications across the elderly care field.
For instance, tech solutions aid seniors across the areas of body and mental care. Technology can help patients with physical health issues, such as lack of mobility or vision/hearing loss; cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s; and provide emotional assistance to the elderly who experience feelings such as loneliness, isolation, or fear.
Senior care tech solutions can work as a part of a traditional medical system, assisting doctors, nurses, and caregivers in providing adequate treatment and monitoring of elderly patients — though some technologies do not require human presence to aid the patient.
Senior Care Technology Trends
Tech in elderly care encompasses a variety of diagnostic, monitoring, and treatment tools and software. The following are the most common technologies that transform elderly medical care:
Internet of (Medical) Things
The Internet of Medical Things is one of the leading senior care technologies thanks to its ability to provide a straightforward and efficient way to intertwine the entire medical ecosystem — including caregivers, patients, and healthcare providers.
IoMT senior care solutions allow on-demand, immediate, and remote sharing of valuable health information about the patient, such as vitals, exercise, and diet.
Besides helping us navigate the world around us, GPS technologies are invaluable tools in senior care.
GPS services are frequently used with elders who experience memory issues caused by illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Such patients are easily disoriented and thus have a habit of wandering — if lost for too long, the patient’s chances of suffering an injury or even death increase largely.
Thankfully, caregivers can ensure their loved ones’ safety with specialized GPS trackers that can be included in seniors’ clothing accessories to track their location 24/7.
Artificial Intelligence is already an enormous part of senior care technology. AI is found across applications like robot-assisted surgeries, virtual nursing assistants, dosage error reduction, preliminary diagnostics, and more.
On a smaller scale, AI-powered software can inform caregivers in case the elderly exhibit unusual behavior, or assist differently-abled seniors in comfortably managing their homes through smart voice assistants.
Camera recording can help senior citizens be treated properly in nursing and retirement homes, where elder abuse persists as a real issue.
Besides preventing the elderly from falling victim to physical or emotional abuse or neglect, cameras give seniors’ families or caretakers peace of mind that their elders are safe and well.
Another common application of cameras in senior care is tracking patients with health and mental issues. Medical professionals use camera systems to monitor changes in the elderly’s activity and get notified in case the senior did not get out of bed or got medication when supposed to.
Medical Alerts & Emergency Response Services
Seniors who experience a lack of mobility, sight, or hearing can be in severe danger if they fall or get hurt when alone. Thankfully, emergency response services (ERS) can locate seniors in need of help and notify adequate service providers of the issue.
Automated, timely alerts are good solutions for older adults who do not suffer from any debilitating conditions. An unfortunate twist of the leg, a fall from the stairs, or seasonal fever can all affect the well-being of seniors — thus, many smartphone apps, wearable devices, and homecare voice units carry this feature, sending alerts to medical personnel.
Companies such as Always Best Care have developed systems for fall prevention that assess and track the patients’ balance and monitor improvements in seniors’ postural sway.
Smart Medication Assistance
Most seniors need to take at least one prescription drug daily. Among the common elderly care technologies is smart medication assistance, which entails different systems that help seniors manage their prescriptions.
For instance, seniors can use pill boxes that notify them which pill they need to take and when. Moreover, there are smart pill bottles that can notify doctors and pharmacies in real-time whether patients take their medications when required.
Devices with virtual assistants can aid seniors by reminding them to take prescriptions, exercise, measure their vitals, etc., without the need for a human to remind them.
Another benefit of these automated assistants is that they create a sense of community for the seniors, as if someone is there to help them. Thus, virtual assistants are great options to combat senior loneliness and isolation.
Thanks to advancements in 5G and AI technologies, senior care can use remote monitoring environments, which allow doctors to virtually resolve patient issues that do not require visits to medical facilities.
Senior patients can schedule virtual consultations with their doctors as many healthcare facilities adopt telemedicine across different fields, such as telepathology, teledermatology, telepsychiatry, and telecardiology.
Implants & Patches Monitoring
Senior care technology devices and software can automatically monitor health vitals, such as glucose levels in type 2 diabetes patients. Identical tech solutions can be applied to track heart rate, oxygen saturation, body temperature, and more.
Technology allowing easy monitoring of a senior’s vitals can significantly alleviate the stress elderly people face when caring for themselves, as well as reassure caregivers that patients are feeling well.
More so, such patches and implants can provide historical data that doctors can use to develop the best care plan for their senior patients.
Thanks to tech advancements, seniors can now receive adequate healthcare without leaving their homes.
The application of technology in senior care allows medical personnel to provide care virtually, reducing the need for patient visits. Thus, hospitals and clinics can function more efficiently and be safe from infectious diseases.
More so, tech enables better diagnostics, data-driven treatment customized to patients’ unique needs, as well as continual tracking of seniors for potential health issues.
Monitoring the elder’s vital signs, behavior, medication activity, and location can all help in providing patients with early intervention and treatment.
In addition, technology can help seniors feel safer in their homes and give peace of mind to their families and caregivers, who can check on the patient’s well-being in real time.
Likewise, tech assists in the mental care of senior citizens by making it easier for them to stay connected with their loved ones and thus reduce feelings of loneliness.
To sum up, technology brings vast benefits to senior medical care — for the elderly, medical personnel, and families alike. With the help of modern tech advancements, senior care will become safer, more extensive, and available to every elderly person in need.
Besides making our lives longer, technology aims to aid seniors’ lives by ensuring their elderly days are comfortable, joyful, and dignified.