More than 85% of seniors age 65 and older and 71% of people between 50 and 64 want to age in place according to statistics reported by AARP. To successfully age in place you will need to perform instrumental and basic activities of daily living (IADLs). These include tasks that allow you to live independently such as taking prescription medications, cleaning, paying bills, shopping and doing the laundry. The only way to make this a reality is by creating home-based technology specialized in caregiving for elders. When technology is mentioned in relation to older adults, people think about easy to use laptops, remote control devices and even robots. However, there are many startups working to create software that make it easier for seniors to age in place.
Better cognitive health with artificial intelligence
As people age their cognitive health starts slowing down, but this can be combated by moving more and eating less processed carbs. You can also improve your cognitive health by simply playing games that stimulate cognitive function such as puzzles. There are also resources and apps online that can help improve memory function. For example, some startups are focusing on creating artificial intelligence software to keep you on your mental toes.
One such app is Constant Therapy that gives seniors access to brain exercises from their phones or tablet while they remain at home. The app integrates digital speech, language, and cognitive exercises. However, your cognitive health also relies on whether you are taking the right medication at the right time or not.
Don't forget your medication
Everyone forgets to take their medication at one time or other for a variety of reasons. This can be a problem especially for seniors 65 years or older who take at least five pills every day. Thankfully, there are apps that have been developed to help seniors stay on track and alert loved ones or caregivers if there is an emergency. For example, some remind you to take your medicine using a talking clock, and others have emergency contact info that you can print right from the card. This is easy to read and has information such as your full name, allergies, health conditions, and the medications you are currently taking.
Older adults going shopping
To be truly independent you should at least be able to travel freely to the park or to visit friends or to shop. Older adults are often not able to do this because of poor eyesight or hearing. This is what Justin Boorgard, the creator of GoGoGrandparent, wanted to change because his over 80 year grandmother whom he lived with could not drive. Uber and Lyft are easy to use but there are many seniors who find the whole process complicated.
Boorgard found a way by using a simpler system involving making phone calls and integrated it with rideshare apps. All the user needs to do is use any phone to call a ride that arrives in 15 minutes. Every driver involved is screened from already established ride-share companies and then they get training on how to handle passengers who are seniors. It is a less complicated way to get around.
Software for vital signs
Health monitoring apps use devices that you wear on your wrist or around your waist to read your vital signs and communicate that data to your caregiver or loved ones. These wearables have software that makes it possible for them to send texts, receive emails, and make calls without the need for a phone. Seniors can stay active knowing that they can easily reach a caregiver or emergency service if needed.
One of the reasons people take their older parents to care homes is because that puts them closer to people who can respond quickly to health emergencies. But apps like Stress Check Pro only requires you to place the tip of your index finger on your iPhone's built in camera lens to measure your body's heart rate variability (HRV). This involves denoting the amount of time between consecutive heartbeats.
Voice and gesture control
If you have ever imagined yourself clapping your lights on, then apps that allow for voice or gesture control are what you need. For instance, Reemo is software that can operate lights, thermostats and appliances using SmartThings plugins. You can operate all these things with just a flick of your wrist. Personal assistants that allow you to control appliances with your voice include Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant.
There is still a long way to go before we are able to create robots that can replace human beings involved in caring for seniors. In the meantime these software innovations are helping people maintain their sense of independence. They create a network of safety and support comprising of caregivers, community and family members.
This is a guest post by Lucy Fielding.