New Exciting Technology Emerges for Seniors and Caregivers in the 2020’s

Pictured: Whill Autonomous Drive System

Q. I am a caregiver for my 80-year old mother who is in the early stages of dementia. I consider myself to be technologically savvy, but I am not quite sure what is out there that can help me in my role. You used to publish lots of articles on new technologies, but it’s been a while. Do you know what new technologies are and will be available for seniors in the coming decade and if there are any that can be of use to caregivers now to make our lives easier? Thanks for your help!

A. There are many new technologies available since we last discussed them. Caregivers themselves are even responsible for some of the newest inventions, because they themselves see a need to help ease their challenging role and to better a loved one’s chances of aging in place for as long as possible.

For example, when Carrie Shaw’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she realized that if she could better understand her mother’s disease and perspective, it could help improve the care she provided her. Carrie launched Embodied Labs, an immersive program that uses virtual reality headsets that offer simulations in which caregivers take on the persona of an aging person facing a variety of situations, including macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Carrie believes that having real insight into a loved one’s condition will enable caregivers to develop empathy for older adults and in turn improve the way they deliver care.

With a projected shortfall of over 1 million direct-care workers during the next few years, Carrie claims the Embodied Labs platform will help train and retain employees and improve difficult conversations with their patients. And, Carrie is not alone when it comes to helpful inventions for seniors and caregivers.

Incredible Technology Exhibited at CES 2020

This year’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES 2020) featured many new technologies to help aging adults maintain mood, hearing, social connection, exercise, safety, medication management, and health tracking.

At CES 2020, tech’s biggest trade show, it was evident that the tech industry is paying attention to the needs of seniors and caregivers. From smart fabrics to smart homes, from robots to virtual reality, the breadth of technology for seniors and caregivers was so very exciting. The debut of a number of products included:

  • Hapbee is a wearable device and smartphone app that purports to make you feel happy, calm, sleepy, alert, focused, etc. with the click of a button.
  • Livio AI is a hearing aid that not only helps your loved one to hear better, but has fall detection, can track body and brain health, and translates 27 languages.
  • HomeFit AR is an augmented reality app that can scan a room and reference AARP’s HomeFit guide to discover what improvements can be made to turn the house into a “lifelong home” devoid of high safety and mobility risks.
  • Zibrio has created a SmartScale previously utilized by astronauts returning from space, that measures movements that indicate a high risk of falling.
  • MouthLab by Aidar Health is a hand-held home monitoring device that measures more than 10 medical parameters such as temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns, heart rate, lung function, and more in 30 seconds.
  • Artiphon designs smart instruments and apps that help anyone, including elders, to enjoy music-making.
  • Savo is an app that makes it easier for people to come together and support a loved one. Users can create a task list and invite friends, family, coworkers and other members of the community to volunteer to help.
  • Essence Group Fall Detector Radar is a detection system for seniors that uses technology to track a person’s position in the home, provide immediate detection of a fall, and effectively alert healthcare providers.
  • Sana Health is a neuro-modulation wearable that uses pulsed light and sound with the aim of reducing chronic and severe pain.
  • CarePredict is a wearable device that assesses seniors’ day to day movements such as sleep, movement around the house, eating, and more.
  • SingFit is an app that’s designed to give speech, occupational, and dance therapists an easier way to implement singing experiences that improve cognitive function.
  • Kytera Companion is a smart remote that provides insights into wellness such as fall detection and physical and mental changes by monitoring behavioral symptoms.
  • MedWand is a handheld device that allows users to conduct remote office visits and, using real-time collection of vital sign readings, can accurately monitor medical conditions regardless of location. It is targeted at people in homes, hospices, and eldercare facilities and enables them to share exam results remotely with their doctors in real time.
  • WHILL is unveiling its Autonomous Drive System, a wheelchair that comes to you at the touch of a button — no walking required — and drives itself, relying on front and back cameras. The company is hoping to sell the wheelchairs to malls, theme parks and major airports.
  • Embr Wave is a personal thermostat bracelet that works by making a user feel colder or warmer by 5ºF.
  • VoiceItt is a speech recognition technology that translates unintelligible speech in real-time, providing a voice and communication to people with severe speech impairments.
  • H2-BP is the world’s smallest and lightest wearable blood pressure monitor.
  • Staying Sharp is a holistic approach to brain health with brain games, healthy recipes, activities and the latest science.
  • Gillette Treo is a razor that is especially designed for a caregiver to shave an elderly person.
  • The Ballie Rolling Robot, created by Samsung, can detect a fall in a home and roll over to ask the person if it should call 911.
  • Zvox is an app-enabled hearing aid.
  • Boston-based Loro created an assistant in the form of a parakeet that rests on the shoulder of a wheelchair user. It is like an extra set of eyes, trained to recognize objects. It also has a tablet that helps someone communicate if the person cannot do so on their own.
  • Technis uses sensors to create smart floors, detecting how seniors are moving in the house and how often they use the bathroom. It also monitors how fast they are moving and uses AI to detect abnormalities that are worth alerts.
  • Sekisui’s “platform house concept,” allows seniors to live independently for a longer time while being monitored closely. Working with MIT, the Sekisui House uses ceiling sensors to monitor a person’s heart rate. It will call for help and unlock the doors for emergency crews if someone is in trouble.

Apple didn’t appear at the show, but its Apple Watch and iPhone products keep adding new capabilities for detecting health problems, such as atrial fibrillation (via ECG), a life-threatening condition caused by an irregular heart rate.

Seniors and Caregivers are a Big Market

Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), spoke on the topic of the “longevity economy” in a talk at CES. She projects that by the end of the next decade seniors and caregivers are projected to spend $84 billion on tech products. Companies will continue to profitably target seniors, as they are about to become a huge population as more and more baby boomers retire.

Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Technologies who has attended 50 CES events over the decades agrees, stating “(t)he role technology will play in health monitoring and self-treatment is already in great demand for eldercare and to anyone that needs to keep track of their health,” he said.“ It will be one of the more important growth markets in tech in the next 20 years.”

When Technology is Not Enough to Make Aging-in-Place the Best Option

Most people want to stay in their home for as long as possible, and the technology described above will certainly prove helpful. However, if despite the technology that is available, you or a loved one cannot live independently and are showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time to consider other alternatives.

Whether the outcome is in-home care, assisted living, or nursing home care in the future, it is always wise to plan ahead. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with receiving nursing home level care at home, or going into assisted living or nursing home care, while helping ensure that you and your loved ones get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life, whether at home, in an assisted living facility, or in a nursing home. Please contact us whenever you’re ready to make an appointment for an initial consultation:

Elder Care Attorney Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Elder Care Attorney Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Elder Care Attorney Rockville: 301-519-8041
Elder Care Attorney DC: 202-587-2797

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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