The Kaiser Family Foundation provided a table of Population Distribution by Age in the United States showing that in 2016 there was a total of 88,681,600 people age 55 and over. Of those, 47,456,500 fell into the “senior citizen” bracket and were 65 years old and over. The projected number of senior citizens by 2020 will be 56 million.
The social and economic consequences of the increasing number of seniors in comparison to the population is a cause for alarm for both the healthcare sector who may have limited resources and their family members who are not equipped to care for them in their old age.
The forecasted rise in numbers of senior citizens requiring care in the coming years has put into motion the need for advancements in technology to assist in senior care. Here are just a few of technology trends that are helping advance senior care:
Sensors positioned between the mattresses of the patients’ beds can detect bed occupancy through a wireless or wired system. But beyond that, these “smart mats” can track heart rate, sleep duration, respiration levels, sleep motions, and the number of times the patients get out of bed at night.
Digital medication dispensers
Digital pill dispensers can hold a 90-day supply of up to 15 medications. They alert both the patient and caregivers via text and email when the medication needs to be refilled. The digital health device even alerts the patient if the forget to take their pill at the right time.
While hospital visits can never be completely eradicated because as it is, doctors have access to the better facilities at their clinic or hospitals, “e-visits” will supplement regular hospital visits. These virtual check-ups will allow the doctor to monitor their patients from their home through phone or video streaming by face to face time for them to talk about the patient’s progress or concerns. This is especially useful for those who have limited access to transportation, have chronic health issues restricting their mobility, or live in remote places.
Seniors who are hard of hearing may not hear the doorbell or a knock at the door. Visual doorbells are linked to their residence’s lighting system so that when someone rings the doorbell, selected lights will flash sending a visual alert that someone is at the door.
Controls and sensors to stabilize environments
Seniors can rest easier in their homes by not only being more secure but comfortable by also having controls that are remotely programmed to set thermostat and temperature levels. The sensors can detect when a window has been left open or if the environment is high in humidity which could be potentially harmful to the home’s resident.
Remote patient monitoring
Remote patient monitoring allows the patient to stay in their homes where they feel most comfortable and secure by utilizing devices that monitor their heart rate and blood pressure. The data collected from these devices will then be sent from the patient to the provider and doctor, alerting them if a home visit is required.
In-home mobile technology can be used by the patients, caregivers, and family members to improve communication through constant mobile updates. Family members and their healthcare practitioners will have access to real-time data concerning the senior’s state of health by this mhealth technology