Rethinking Elderly Care …Embracing technology for a tranquil elderly living
Caring for the elderly/aged should not be a burden. Unfortunately, some people find it very difficult to care for their aged parents, grandparents or other family members.
The stress one may have to go through just to get one’s frail mother out of bed is a whole other story. However, the stress is not even about the caregiver but the aged person; most of who wish they could have an easier alternative to living a stress-free life at their old age. A walking aid for balance, a reminder to take medication on time, a lift up the staircase at home, a nutritious meal available always, or a simple exercise routine would go a long way to ensuring the elderly are truly living a tranquil life.
For elderly people who have lived many years without the use of computers, GPS, smartphones etc., it is quite difficult to easily adapt to these new techs. Extra effort would be required from a senior citizen to become tech-savvy. Having this in mind, companies are finding ways to include the senior demographic in their various tech innovations to make it senior-friendly in an exciting way. Of course, all this to aid senior living and senior caregiving.
Delving into some interesting innovations that are truly helping to make life easier for seniors, one can find
These devices are designed to help people who have problems moving around to enjoy freedom and independence. Older adults who have a high risk of falling choose to use mobility aids. They also help reduce pain in some parts of the legs where the pressure may be exerted.
From canes and crutches to wheelchairs and stairlifts, there is a suitable aid for any elderly person suffering from any walking discomfort.
The Together Canes
For a senior who is not wheelchair-bound, a walking cane can be of great help for extra support when walking. The Together Cane or walking cane furniture is an ingenious idea for seniors. This amazing innovation is great for easy movement especially when one has to carry other things while holding the walking cane.
The Together Cane is a piece of functional art and furniture that combines a walking cane with a table or other household pieces. There are three versions of the Together Cane, one being the I-Cane, the T-Cane and the U-Cane. Each cane boasts of different features such as a tea table, iPad desk and basket.
The wheels allow for the cane to be used smoothly and easily while also providing users with enough support to carry themselves and their belongings. This walking cane furniture does both jobs well and is a good addition to any senior's walking cane collection.
Designed by Ron Goldberg, this Isowalk cane meant to be safer, ergonomic and electronically connected (like a smartphone). ISOWalk has a unique, foot-shaped nub that helps stabilize the cane. The cane also has shock-absorbing material and a handle that swivels to accommodate those who are left-handed or right-handed.
This cane is very convenient especially because of its shock-absorbing feature that enables the cane to adapt to any terrain during a walk around.
Robotic Walking Aids
Think transformers and you will have granny and gramps moving transformer style. This robotic walking aid was unveiled at Toyota Healthcare Robots show, Japan in 2012. Toyota, in collaboration with Japan's Fujita Health University, revealed four robots designed to help the elderly and those who are incapacitated to balance, walk and move easily.
A computerized leg brace called the Independent Walk Assist– helps the user walk and can adjust itself as the user develops more strength, says TechNewsDaily. There’s also a sensor that detects movement in the hips to aid in walking and another robot aids in balancing the user.
Terrain Sensing Wheelchairs
Wheelchairs are used by people who should not exert pressure or expend energy on their lower limbs or people who are unable to walk completely. Wheelchairs can be manually propelled by the user, pushed by someone else, or electrically powered. Hi-Tech wheelchairs equipped with sensors that will help facilitate safer, easier and more helpful controls have been invented with new improvements/advances coming all the time.
Many inventions have come from these wheelchairs and some have been built to go upstairs, avoid obstacles and so on.
A team of researchers at Japan’s Keio University have built a robotic tail that could help unsteady elderly people maintain their balance. Dubbed Arque, the grey one-meter device mimics tails such as those of cheetahs and other animals used to keep their balance while running and climbing. The tail’s motion is going to be like a pendulum and will move in the opposite direction the body tilts, to maintain balance.
The robotic tail, which uses four artificial muscles and compressed air to move in eight directions, is still in the lab to make sure it’s top-notch when finally released. This innovation will greatly aid seniors to get around easily.
Wearable Tech Aids
Wearable tech is not just innovation for the young and active, the elderlies are also embracing wearing such tech to monitor several aspects of their lives such as tracking a chronic condition or another underlying health issue. This will enable seniors to function independently. Elderly wearables can make life easier for both elderlies and their caregivers. This tech is not just for counting steps but can monitor daily activities, send alerts, and even prevent falls.
There are watches/wristbands/rings; very popular in this area are Fitbit and Apple Watches, and Motiv Ring. These devices have apps for tracking activity, sleep, and heart rate. It can also measure active minutes, resting heart rate, activity type, calories expended, the intensity of activity, number of steps, sleep duration, distance and more. Their design is comfortable and stylish, something one worth worry about wearing at all.
There are other sophisticated wearables such as Lively Mobile Plus by GreatCall, ActiveProtective Airbag Smart Belt for Hip Protection, GPS SmartSole, Care Touch Wrist Blood Pressure Cuff Monitor and more. These devices are very key to monitoring senior living. Equipped with GPS, sensors, built-in gyroscope accelerometer that tell if you’ve fallen and other medical applications (to monitor blood pressure, give reminders, etc.); these can save time, give comfort and even save a life!
Elderly Exercise Equipment
The elderlies have a lot to gain from exercising but unfortunately, many of them do not. Others face various health problems and they can't exactly randomly sign up for the gym. Innovations in elderly exercise equipment seek to change the minds of seniors and encourage them to exercise. Specifically designed equipment, video games and exoskeletons seem to be doing the magic.
According to Medical Expo; “in order to keep elderly minds as limber as their bodies, a number of serious video game developers are developing video games for elderly people that increase attentional demand, have a novelty value and thus stimulate the brain, and may also either directly (through social gaming) or indirectly promote social interaction.”
There are a number of virtual gaming setups such as Athene Exergaming which provides a treadmill set up with a range of video screens, providing an immersive virtual environment to keep users motivated while they exercise. SeeMe that works in the same way as the Wii system, using motion sensors. The user can exercise certain muscles by following the game and those movements are recorded by computer, so the game can be adapted to each individual user’s needs or rehabilitation goals.
Real exoskeletons for exercise also looks like a promising innovation as a number of companies are investing in this area. This tech helps the elderly with mobility as well and can assist in the rehabilitation of seniors who suffered from a stroke and other related illness.
Samsung has Bot Gems, LG – CLOi SuitBot, Seismic and others have released prototypes. Some ready for commercial production and all. This tech won’t be used for only the elderly but also children, factory workers, military, etc.
With the absence of all-over body strength, the elderly may tussle to position themselves correctly in using regular gym equipment and may injure themselves through the irregular strain on their joints of lifting and dropping dead weights. A number of gym equipment manufacturers have thus developed ranges of exercise equipment specially designed to accommodate the elderly; the equipment is adapted to provide very low and very smooth resistance giving additional support to keep the user in the correct position, irrespective of body strength.
For example, treadmills for seniors have additional handrails, grasps and padded support. The machines are made more accessible; steps are provided for getting to higher surfaces and saddles can be removed to allow wheelchair access.
Designer Miriam Petersen also found a fun way to get elderly people both social and active with her urban exercise equipment invention. It is an outdoor gym setup mainly for aerobic activities which are just light exercises that maintain joint and limb movement. The best thing about this exercise equipment is that if these are installed in public arenas, everyone can benefit from them.
There have been so many other innovations just to make elderly living better and comfortable. People are living longer, so it's time to start rethinking the design of our elderly aids – yes, someday you too will be old and technology can make your life easier!