It’s no debate that older adults require a lot of medical care, which carries a high cost. At least 90 percent of the group, 65+, live with a chronic disease while over 75 percent have two (NCOA). They’re ready for technologies and devices that help them cope with pain, manage nutrition and diet, perform exercises, and learn about chronic issues.
Healthcare is one component of an older American’s life that carries potential to devastate their standard of living, following housing costs. Having tools to help manage chronic disorders rank high in demand but predominantly for education and information.
So, it’s time that developers, tech designers, startups, and investors see the light. They can help empower patients to gain control and connect them to services and the community. However, if you doubt whether seniors have the wherewithal to use technology, dismiss it. The Pew Internet Research (2014) found that 75 percent between the ages of 65 to 69 go online, and 65 percent of them have broadband at home. Furthermore, 68 percent between 70 and 74 do the same.
Aging technology thought leaders say mHealth and devices to be useful
David Lindeman, Director of the Center for Aging and Technology (CITRIS) at the University of California Berkeley, believes we are at the onset of “connected aging.” Our society needs an array of Internet-based technologies and mobile devices to support older adults to age in place. Emerging technologies empower seniors to manage their health, stay connected to communities, and access services. Lindeman advises startups to use the model of Jacob Institute at UC Berkeley. Here, the designers, older adults, and senior-related services collaborate as a team in design efforts.
Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, Consumer Technology Association agrees wholeheartedly in blending technology with active aging because accessibility-related features in mobile operating systems deliver access regardless of declining vision, hearing, mobility – or even their usability level.
While exploring active aging tools and it’s importance to health, I asked the Seniorcare.com Aging Council, specialists who work in senior care, what innovations support successful aging?
Reena Pande, M.D., AbilTo, claims telehealth has expanded the delivery of behavioral health care for family caregivers who overlook their health. Care professionals now understand that behavioral health is a vital link in well-being. Telehealth integrates care delivery and improves access, so caregivers can focus on their relationships, without compromising their health.
Rhonda Harper, Penrose Senior Care Auditors, believes wearable devices that monitor and report specific health conditions or inactivity to the medical staff would be a game changer.
Evan Farr, Farr Law Firm, explains that a White House Advisory Council Report encourages telehealth, mHealth, broadband adoption and remote monitoring technology to play a bigger role in maximizing older Americans’ ability to function in the later years.
Mike Radice, ChartaCares, sees a unified caregiving and family communications approach like MyHomeReach, SelfHelp.net, and the Kubi telepresence robot, all contributing to senior health.
Ted Teele, Touchtown, believes seniors have strong desires to be social and remain independent. There are companies, including Touchtown, which offer technology to help them engage.
Ben Mandelbaum, Senior-Planning, thinks tech advances and smartphone apps like Well-Being Plus, medication and exercise reminders, and Red Panic Button, alerts medical contacts in the event of an emergency are extremely useful.
David Mordehi, Advise and Protect, promotes the use of telemedicine because it allows home-bound patients to be seen by physicians without leaving home. It’s a burden to many ailing seniors to prepare and travel to medical appointments which might last only a few minutes.
Design thinking can help enhance how we care for older Americans. In the Harvard Business Review article, it illustrates knowing how older consumers use products, their environments, and reacting with innovative strategies, will help healthcare providers address the needs of the aging population.
Even the White House advisers get involved with the groups’ required tools and devices. The President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology recommends startups, entrepreneurs, and care providers deliver wearable sensors, cognitive training apps, and devices to connect them to medical teams, caregivers, and family members.