Part 2: What’s Next for Senior Tech? — Tools that are Transforming the Care and Well-being of Seniors

woman checking apple watchTechnology has changed everyone’s lives and continues to do so every day. In many ways, seniors have some of the greatest needs of anyone in our society and, as such, may have the most potential to be helped by technological innovations now and in the years to come.

Some products have already started to make their mark, especially during the pandemic, while others on the horizon could make a big difference in the future. As a Life Care Planning law firm, we hope the information in this article helps you and your loved ones plan for the best quality of life possible.

Senior Technology That Was Spotlighted at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show

For the last eight years, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Foundation has featured technologies that help older adults and people with disabilities stay connected and work, live, and enjoy life independently. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) every year, CTA showcases many tech solutions for seniors to age-in-place. Despite the pandemic, this year was no different.

Below are some of the popular emerging senior technologies for 2021. Last week in part 1, we discussed smart technology for freedom and flexibility in the home, home security technology, and smart contact sensors. Today, we will focus on health and medical technology, wearables, and tech to build social connections.

Health and Wellness

Three out of four seniors want to stay in their homes and age-in-place, and technology that allows them to get help in an emergency or track their health virtually can be critical to helping them achieve that goal.

Here are some examples of health and wellness technology, most of which was spotlighted at the 2021 virtual CES:

– Fall Prevention:

The Aladin Smart Lamp is a smart lamp that hangs on the wall and anticipates and prevents falls of residents in assisted living and nursing facilities, Aladin uses artificial intelligence (not sensors) to detect changes in motion, temperature, and more. Its automatic lighting, built-in fall detector, and integrated monitoring system not only reduces falls but can decrease the stress on caregivers, allowing high-risk individuals to be independent again. Learn more at Domalys.

– Caregiving:

The Core Kit is an app with sensors that track movement and patterns to provide family members/caregivers with reassurance that things are as they should be, without the use of invasive video cameras or wearable tracking devices. Small, non-intrusive sensors are placed discretely around the home, providing caregivers with insights for early detection of problems and if there are changes in their eating, sleeping, or activity patterns. Learn more at Caregiver Smart Solutions.

ianacare is a free app that serves as a point of coordination for a patient’s family and friend caregivers to organize tasks such as dropping off groceries, picking up medications from the pharmacy, virtual check-ins and emotional connections. Learn more at ianacare.

– Health and fitness:

MightyHealth is focused on three things: live coaching; content focused on nutrition, preventative checkups and workouts; and celebrations that let family members tune into their loved ones’ achievements. Every day when a user logs in, he or she gets a set of three to five tasks to complete, distributed among nutrition, exercise, and workouts.  Learn more at MightyHealth.

WellBe Medical Alert is a secure, HIPAA compliant, voice-enabled virtual health assistant platform designed to help seniors to age-in-place. WellBe Medical Alert PLUS is an AI-powered system that includes both a voice assistant as well as a smartwatch, connecting users with emergency services with their voice at home or via a watch button when on-the-go. Learn more at HandsFreeHealth.

– Memory assistance:

The RAZ Memory Cell Phone with speakerphone and GPS tracking is an easy-to-use picture phone for people with memory loss, dementia, Alzheimer’s or intellectual disabilities. It can be used at home, on-the-go and in assisted living & memory care facilities as no phone line or internet is required. Know where a loved one is with GPS tracking. The phone also offers limit call capabilities, both in outbound, and easy emergency 911 calling. Learn more at RAZ Mobility.

Aura Frames offers an elegant, smart, cloud-based digital photo frame that enables family members to remotely fill a loved one’s home with special pictures that can trigger both old memories and help to create new ones. Photos can be instantly uploaded via an app that can pull pictures from your smartphone services including Google Photos. Learn more at Aura.

– Robots:

CareClever Cutii  is a Companion Robot for isolated seniors. Cutii is designed for friendship. It’s a “live-in companion” that learns the design of the senior’s room. Seniors communicate directly with Cutii. It’s 100% voice activated and offers 2 way calling and text messages. Cutii can entertain and occupy the mind and body with live activities like Yoga, Tai Chi, poetry reading, games, trivia and more. Learn more at Cutii.

ITRI Dual Arm Robot is a Dual Arm Robot System (DARS) that can perform different tasks for humans without specific tools. The robot features hands similar to humans with enough dexterity to play the piano. ITRI said the system could serve in industries such as manufacturing, health care, and hazardous environment operation.” Learn more at ITRI.

Moflin is an AI pet robot with “emotional capabilities.” It looks like a fluffy gray guinea pig, with black beady eyes and soft fur. Vanguard Industries says that its unique algorithm allows Moflin to learn and grow, using built-in sensors to evaluate its surroundings. These sensors include accelerometers with gyroscopes, touch sensors, and microphones, making it capable of distinguishing between different people depending on how they interact with it. It can express its ‘feelings’ accordingly, through movements and sounds that were inspired by real animal noises. Learn more at Moflin.

Petit Qoobo is similar to a cat that you place in your lap, where it will stay for as long as you like (unlike a real cat). Apparently, it is meant to behave something like a therapy animal. The company wanted to emulate the “healing qualities” of a cuddly animal sitting on your lap and wagging its tail. Learn more at Qoobo.

Samsung Bot Handy is currently ‘in development’ but was shown working during CES 2021. This device works with ‘advanced AI’ to “recognize” objects by size, shape, and weight. The “handy” part of its name is for its ability to pick up objects, “becoming an extension of you and helping you with work around the house.” Samsung Bot Handy can handle dishes after a meal. You’ll wash each dish and put it in a rack for drying – this robot can pick up each dish and place each dish in your cupboard without any smashing. Learn more at Slashgear.

– Vision aid:

OrCam Read is designed for people with mild low vision, reading fatigue, reading difficulties including dyslexia, and for anyone who consumes large amounts of text. OrCam Read is a handheld device with a smart camera that reads text from any printed surface or digital screen. It enables you to enjoy the morning paper, read any book, and even read all that appears on your computer or smartphone screen. Learn more at OrCam.

Wearables

Beyond the typical smartwatches and consumer wearables such as Apple Watch and Fitbit, among others, a growing number of personal medical devices help older adults collect vital signs, capture and transmit that data, and analyze it via dashboards for clinical review.

At CES, hearing loss and falls were hot topics in aging, as they are a huge challenge for older adults, family members, and care providers. Hopefully some of the wearable technology listed below will help those who are aging in place in these areas:

– Hearing Aids:

AI enabled hearing aids made a splash at this year’s show, the most interesting one by Oticon. The Oticon More is the world’s first hearing aid with an on-board deep neural network. According to CNET, “the deep neural network inside the hearing aid is trained on 12 million real-life sounds, meaning it can process speech in noise more like the human brain does, and gives the brain more information needed to hear sonic details.”

Widex Moment hearing aid boasts a feature called PureSound™, which Widex claims delivers a more natural sound than ever before. Widex describes PureSound as “an industry defining, ultrafast signal pathway that eradicates the unpleasant artefacts inherent in classic hearing solutions.” PureSound is related to another new feature, ZeroDelay™, which enables near-0ms sound processing across the entire frequency spectrum, also allowing for a more authentic listening. experience.” Learn more at Widex.

AbsoluteAudio’s PYOUR Audio Hearing 2.0 is another solution that pairs high quality hearing performance with low power consumption and low memory usage. Learn more at Absolute Audio.

Find out more about other hearables that were presented at CES 2021.

– Vision Aid:

Voy Glasses VOY Glasses was awarded the 2021 Innovation Award in Wearable Technology at CES for its Tunable Eyeglasses. The VOY Tunable Eyeglasses provide a solution to help people suffering from both farsightedness and moderate nearsightedness with just one pair of glasses. They can change focus from -5D to +2D in a matter of seconds, eliminating the need to carry several pairs of specs with you. Learn more at VOY.

– Monitoring:

CarePredict TouchPoint is a remote activity monitoring app for seniors that provides caregivers with continuous insight and increased visibility into their loved one’s well-being. TouchPoint is the companion of another CarePredict product called Tempo, which is a wearable device, similar to a watch or wristband, designed to track subtle changes in a senior’s daily activities and behavior.” Learn more at CarePredict.

iCardioGuard detects heart rate and respiration in three seconds, records the measurements and transmits the collected data to a mobile device by Bluetooth. A mobile app then instantly displays the person’s physical and psychological states and sends a warning notification when it detects an irregularity. Learn more at ITRI.

Omron VitalSight helps identify warning signs of a heart attack or stroke before they happen. The VitalSight remote patient monitoring program relies upon connected medical devices that enable patients to make a commitment to regular heart health monitoring from the comfort of their homes. Learn more at Omron.

FallCall Detect can distinguish between falls with greater force that are more likely to cause injury and falls that occur from a sitting position. If a high-impact fall is detected, FallCall’s medical monitoring service is automatically contacted and will send emergency services if needed. If a low-impact fall is detected, only a user’s pre-designated support community is contacted. It is designed for Apple Watch. Learn more at FallCall.

The Kanega Watch is an all-in-one, voice-controlled smart watch designed to keep you connected, independent, active, and safe. It goes everywhere you do, connects to a live emergency operator in seconds, includes auto fall detection, and you never have to take it off to charge because it uses a patented quick-swap battery system. Learn more at UnaliWear.

– Medical Alert Systems:

Medical Alert Systems are GPS-enabled wearable devices or pendants that alert emergency responders and caregivers in the event that a senior falls or experiences another medical problem. They are a smart choice for seniors who want to remain in their own homes, providing peace of mind and a better chance for help in an emergency. Learn more about several types of Medical Alert Systems here.

Building Social Connections

The coronavirus pandemic also highlighted another chronic issue in healthcare – loneliness.

Luckily, according to AARP, three quarters of all adults ages 50 and older use social media on a regular basis, primarily Facebook, followed by YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Older Americans most often sign on to social networks on smartphones (55%), followed by computers (47%) and tablets (41%). They are drawn to these sites to stay connected with friends and family. Here are some examples of technology to build social connections:

Amazon Echo Show is a simple video-chat system. Alexa allows users to instantly chat with loved ones and caregivers. The device also doubles as a Zigbee wireless hub, allowing control of more smart-home devices than you can get with any other voice platform.

GrandPad is a tablet designed just for seniors with a simplified set of 11 apps that use large, clearly labeled icons (for video and voice calls, photos, email, music, games, news, weather and search). The charged and configured tablet comes in a box designed for seniors, so it’s easy to open. Photos and contacts are preloaded on the device by family, so no passwords or setup are required. Only people on the approved contacts list can send messages and there’s a live support person on call 24/7. Learn more about GrandPad.

MyndVR aims to put smiles on seniors’ faces through virtual reality experiences that enable them to relive meaningful memories and/or visit places outside of their normal environments (e.g. outer space, the Great Wall of China, or the Fjords of Norway). MyndVR has started collaborating with leading universities to research the potential cognitive health benefits of using VR with aging populations.

Stitch is currently the main social media network targeting seniors, specifically. The platform’s stated goal is to help seniors “find companions,” with an emphasis on finding other seniors with similar interests.

The Golden Girls Network helps match seniors with other seniors who need roommates, so they don’t have to age in place alone.

Technology is Important for Seniors for Many Reasons

No matter how you use it, technology is a great way to stay engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond and can also be effective to help seniors age in place for as long as possible. Hopefully, the technology mentioned in this article will help seniors and their loved ones feel a little more confident about aging in place safely and staying connected to loved ones and caregivers!

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, but it may not always be enough. When the time comes that a loved one needs assistance in the home, a move to an assisted living facility, or a move to a nursing home in the future, it is always wise to plan ahead. As Life Care Planning attorneys and Medicaid Asset Protection attorneys, we help elders get the best possible care while maintaining the highest levels of dignity and quality of life, often protecting assets in the process from the catastrophic costs of nursing home care. Please contact us whenever you’re ready to make an appointment for a no-cost initial consultation:

Life Care Planning Attorney Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Life Care Planning Attorney Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Life Care Planning Attorney Rockville: 301-519-8041
Life Care Planning Attorney DC: 202-587-2797
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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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