Ninety percent of the older adult population in the United States would prefer to age in their own home. There are challenges, but with new and upcoming technological advancements targeted at this age group, it will become easier to maintain this independence.
Aging in place means having the ability to live in your own home and community comfortably, safely, and independently. You can maintain your social network, keep your pets, have friends and family over, and engage with your grandkids. There is a pronounced negative impact on moving from your own home, which can lead to serious health implications.
There have been health technology advancements in the last few years, targeting the older adult population and allowing them to age in place. Technologies, such as wearable sensors, smart phones, and telehealth, have provided timely monitoring at home. Older adults are able to manage their chronic diseases at home.
Smart home technology is evolving quickly with network sensors, new software, artificial intelligence, and other systems providing data connection between devices and the internet.
There are many digital options that can assist with health maintenance, such as monitoring heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen saturation rate, and memory aids. Smartwatches, wearable alert systems, and personal health trackers can provide important metrics and alert you when needed, such as when to take your medication.
Medication adherence in older adults is a major concern. Nearly half the older adult population do not take their medications as prescribed. In addition, they are usually on several prescription medications, along with over-the-counter medications and supplements. Vision loss can also make it hard to read directions and distinguish between medications. There are many new devices on the market that help assist in taking the right medications at the right time. These devices can alert you when it is time to take medication, automatically dispense your medication, and have capability to connect to caregivers and family to let them know that you are taking your medication.
Health services can perform continuous monitoring of older adults, along with Telemedicine and Tele-visits. Healthcare providers can evaluate vital signs, medication management, mobility, falls, and quality of life.
Also, a smart home can monitor and automatically adjust air temperature and humidity. Older adults with limited mobility can also use technology to assist them in daily tasks. Voice-activated home devices can help with weather reports, play music, adjust lighting, or just simply answer a question.
For security and safety, these systems can detect hazards or intruders. Security systems can help you feel protected. All can be set up to alert authorities and family members.
Smart wearable devices can detect changes in daily patterns, such as missing a meal, not waking up or not going to sleep, or falling.
Aging in place has been more viable compared to ten years ago. Every year, there have been several advances in this technology and automation. To learn more, go online and you can find more information on what is available now and in the near future. Learning how to use current technology, such as cell phones, computers, the internet, and social media. There are books, virtual classes, and in-person classes.
The older adult population is growing significantly, so we will see lots of great technology for this age group. My profession is geriatric health, providing medications to older adults, so I am excited to see more of this technology in the coming years.
By: Belinda Burchick, RPh, BPharm