Assistive Technology for Seniors

Posted by: The Bristal

Most of us typically think of the younger generation when the talk turns to new technology products. Baby boomers and even their parents, however, are using high tech solutions to stay connected and maintain independence. As we look ahead, there are greater opportunities on the horizon for technology to support older adults. Self-driving cars and caregiver robots may soon become a reality.

Today’s Technology to Help Seniors

If you are a senior searching for solutions to help you maintain your independence at home or an adult child concerned about a parent’s safety, there are a wide variety of options to consider. From medication management to remote monitoring, elder care technology has come a long way in recent years.

Medication Management Technology

If your goal is to find a safe medication management system, there are several types you might want to consider:

• Reminder systems can be as basic as an unlocked pill dispenser to more complex models with added features. You might opt for a pill dispenser with a locking function that allows users access to only the correct compartment at the correct dosage time; all other compartments remain locked. This helps prevent the senior from taking too much medication or taking the wrong pills.

• Management systems are available with a variety of options. Some systems work off of batteries or an AC adapter. When it is time to take a medication these systems emit a low frequency alarm believed to be easier for older adults to hear. It can also be set up to place an automated phone call to the adult child or caregiver if a dosage is missed.

Remote Monitoring Technology

Another form of technology is one that allows seniors to remain independent while offering their adult children peace of mind. They are remote monitoring systems. These discrete products work off of sensors placed throughout the home. The older adult typically wears a bracelet or pendant that works in conjunction with the sensors to monitor their activity throughout the day and night. It can alert a family member to unusual activity such as an exterior door or a window opening in the middle of the night or if the senior hasn’t gotten up at their usual time in the morning.

Future Technology That Will Help Seniors

Though it might seem a bit unbelievable, there are a few types of technology on the near horizon that might also help seniors stay independent and at home longer. Robot caregivers and self-driving cars are among them.

Robot Caregivers

While the United States lags behind in developing robot caregivers, other countries are making progress. In Europe, for example, a human-looking robot is being developed that will offer reminders when it is time to take a medication, get ready for an appointment and much more. Mobiserv, as the caregiver robot project is called, can even encourage a senior to eat and exercise if they haven’t done so. This quick video will give you a firsthand look at how Mobiserv will function.

Another project sponsored by a European consortium that is well underway is GiraffPlus. Working off of a network of sensors, it can detect if a senior has fallen, if their blood pressure is high and more. Like Mobiserv, it uses Skype-like technology to allow family members and caregivers to talk virtually with the senior.

Self-Driving Cars

Many of us are aware of Google’s planned use of self-driving cars. An early adopter of these cars when they become available just might be older adults. Some reviewers have labeled these cars “intelligent digital chauffeurs.” They could drive seniors to physician appointments, the grocery store and to any other desired location. While self-driving cars are currently limited to only a few roads and retirement communities, researchers believe the remaining limitations will soon be overcome.

While all this might sound a little like a science fiction movie, experts believe cars that allow you to sit back and enjoy the ride will be a reality by the end of this decade and caregiver robots will likely be available even before that.

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