Over the past 10 years, senior care technology has improved with the advancements of mobile devices and long range, low power technology.
Previously, caretakers have held the responsibility of manually monitoring the status and location of a senior citizen. Now, technologies such as patient tracking and smart home devices can automate tasks and processes to support seniors. Implementing IoT devices, such as wearables, telemedicine and smart home devices, can bring peace of mind to families and loved ones and safer living conditions for seniors.
The population of those aged 65 and over is growing faster than all other age groups. According to data from World Population Prospects, one in six people worldwide will be over the age of 65 by 2050, making up 16% of the global population. Seniors face increased challenges that may put them in harm’s way, because of social exclusion, the accelerating trend in reduced intergenerational living spurred by COVID-19, and residing in large, spread out communities. Caregivers, health care professionals and family members can better support the well-being of seniors and their ability to comfortably and more manageably live alone through the use of IoT technology.
Low power, wearable IoT devices are useful for patient tracking. Not only do they reduce costs, but they help clinicians track and locate patients quickly and, in an emergency situation, can save a patient’s life.
According to Gartner, total worldwide spending on wearable devices is expected to increase 18% in 2021 compared to the previous year. This includes noninvasive connected wristband trackers that can manage the location of seniors within their own home, outside the home or in a care facility. Advances in GPS technology have made wristband trackers more accurate in identifying the precise location of a patient. Caregivers can monitor seniors who are subject to being displaced due to dementia or Alzheimer’s. IoT-enabled wearables can provide real-time location monitoring with miles of connectivity, and health metrics monitoring such as heart rate and body temperature of the wearer.
Smart home devices
In addition to generating data that helps caregivers predict senior needs, IoT-enabled devices give seniors control of their physical environment. Wirelessly connected devices — such as a heating control panel, doorbell or door lock — help seniors better manage their home applications and create safer living environments.
Falling, the second leading cause of accidental injury or unintentional deaths worldwide, is experienced most by adults aged 65 and older, according to the World Health Organization. IoT-enabled devices can prevent injury or help seniors complete everyday activities, including open garage doors or activate the sprinkler system from inside the home via an app on a tablet or smartphone. For example, long range, low power technology can give seniors access to hard-to-reach areas such as the basement, porch, attic or even outside. This technology monitors data in real time to create safer experiences for seniors, alerting them immediately if a door has opened, if there’s a leak or any other potentially dangerous developments.
Another important smart device application is smart lighting. Seniors can use IoT-enabled applications with long range, low power technology to remotely control lighting both inside and outside the home. By using the IoT, utilities can connect with other applications for increased efficiency.
Smart lighting products offer a timed lighting capability, allowing seniors to safely navigate their homes day and night without manually switching lights on and off. Smart bulbs are typically manufactured with a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth receiver and activated by voice recognition for fast, direct commands. Long range, low power connectivity ensures the technology will work no matter where the light is located.
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