Things can get difficult with age. Whether it’s navigating the way to the bathroom in the dark or remembering which foods we have in the fridge while shopping, small tasks can feel more significant as we get older.
But these days, technology is stepping in with solutions that can solve everyday problems for older adults in ways that simply weren’t possible just a few years ago. Thanks to the internet of things (IoT), smart technology can connect your mobile device to everything from your light bulb to your refrigerator, garage door and toilet. Linking these to the internet helps older adults keep track of what’s going on when they aren’t home and also helps loved ones and caregivers keep an eye on what’s going on around the older adult’s home throughout the day.
Helping Dementia Patients
Smart technology can provide a great deal of value for seniors suffering from varying stages of dementia. Door sensors that can alert loved ones and caregivers of late-night exits have obvious value, but sometimes, even the smallest conveniences can make a big difference.
Seniors suffering from dementia who remain independent can use technology such as smart fridges to check on what food they have in stock in the fridge in case they forget by the time they get to the store. They can set schedules for smart light bulbs using home assistants and use smart pill bottles to create medication reminders. Meanwhile, the ever-present smart phone can now offer a plethora of options for brain training and cognitive performance applications.
While smart technology can’t replace the presence of a caregiver, it can help older adults with dementia maintain a higher level of independence than they would be able to manage otherwise.
Treating Depression and Loneliness
Smart technology also offers a variety of tools to help seniors struggling with the loss of friends and loved ones or those who are just feeling down in the dumps about their situation in life. Smart home assistants can tell us a lot more than the time and even respond to questions about mental health issues such as suicide, loneliness and depression.
As companies like Amazon and Google refine their home assistants, it’ll be interesting to see how the personalities of the artificial intelligence voice develops. The more life-like it becomes, the more likely people are to use it to conquer issues related to their mental health.
Managing Chronic Conditions
Amazon has been at the forefront of pursuing solutions to treating chronic conditions through its Amazon Echo platform. Through the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, tech developers have created ways to monitor your blood glucose through the Echo. Diabetes management has extended to new platforms as a result of the challenge with supplemental technology such as Sugarpod, a foot monitor that connects directly to Alexa to detect common issues related to diabetes.
Smart toilets are becoming increasingly popular due to their ability save water, increase hygiene and increase ease of use. But now, AI enabled toilets are even able to scan feces and urine for instant analysis and screening for signs of developing conditions so that they can be diagnosed much faster.
As healthcare and technology people begin to collaborate more and comply with HIPAA, the number of innovations that can plug directly into electronic health records and provide real time monitoring of patients with a variety of health conditions in the home setting will multiply. It’s an exciting time to invest a virtual assistant for older adults.