Wearables in Elder Care
The twenty-somethings of today Techies may not be concerned about the obstacles of old age, but they should be.
For tech companies, seniors represent a big untapped market. While just 13% of Americans are 65 or older today, that number is expected to rise to 19% by 2030.
Wearables are one area that has a lot of potential.
Technology like this is already helping people live healthier lives. Wearables are used by more than 20% of Americans. Smart gear has been developed by Ralph Lauren, Adidas, and other leading brands to assist individuals in improving their fitness habits.
Elder care will soon be filled with wearables that promote healthy aging and independent living for seniors. “Smart clothing” that monitors elders’ health and reminds them to take their meds are on the way, thanks to recent developments in nanotechnology. Medical applications, according to analysts, will eventually account for the greatest portion of the smart textile market, reaching $843 million by 2021.
Smart fabrics were not very wearable till recently. They were large, brittle, and generally ugly, as they were made of metallic threads. However, new future threads known as “smart yarn” allows designers to embroider circuits into fabric with extreme precision, resulting in lightweight, pleasant, and low-cost wearables.
Wearables enable patients to take an active role in their own health management. This can include novel strategies for elders to manage chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
Chronic disease accounts for a staggering 86 percent of all healthcare spending in the United States. At least one chronic illness affects more than nine out of ten seniors. By avoiding unneeded emergency department visits and hospital stays, technology that helps seniors prevent complications from their ailments can save a lot of money.
Patients are already wearing smartwatches to remind them when it’s time to take their pills. Seniors with hypertension may be able to ditch their bulky cuffs in favor of smaller, wrist-worn blood pressure monitors in the future.
Seniors with diabetes may soon be able to manage their condition with the help of smart footwear. Footfalls & Heartbeats, a New Zealand firm, is working with the University of Nottingham on a pair of sensor-equipped “smart socks” that can alert diabetics when they are at risk of foot ulcers.
Meanwhile, T-shirts from OMsignal in Canada can detect wearers’ stress levels and even relay vital signals to family members and doctors. Thread-based health monitors, according to the startup, can help avoid everything from heart failure to seizures.
Mobility is sometimes a nightmare for more than 6 million seniors who suffer from eyesight loss. Sensors have the ability to alter this. While canes can assist visually impaired people in detecting impediments on the ground, they cannot tell them which way to turn or which way to face.
Technology is on its way to saving the day. The initial generation of wearable technology relied on users inserting tiny speakers into their ears to hear warnings – a decent beginning step. However, because many visually impaired people rely on their hearing to compensate for their lack of vision, the gadgets’ audio signals were distracting.
Designers have taken what they’ve learned from previous initiatives and are creating new tools to help the blind and partially sighted. Sensors that detect objects using ultrasonic waves can be fastened to garments or woven into vests. The sensor vibrates as the user approaches an obstacle, increasing in strength and frequency as the impediment gets closer.
Take the Eyeronman vest from Tactile Navigation Tools, which uses three different types of sensors to guide the visually impaired. The sensors in the vest interact with an electronic textile shirt, which vibrates in a specific area to signal imminent impediments and their locations.
Keeping Your Independence
Wearables can keep seniors safe and independent more than anything else. Perhaps the most crucial? Fall prevention technology can help people avoid life-altering accidents.
According to government projections, one in every three persons over the age of 65 will fall each year. A broken bone or a head injury occurs in one out of every five falls. The cost of treating senior individuals who fall is estimated to be around $34 billion per year, and the problem will only become worse as the baby boomer generation ages.
Wearable technology can assist in lowering the danger of falling. Sensoria, a company based in Washington that develops technology for runners, recently teamed up with Orthotics Holdings Inc. to provide extra assistance for seniors. The collaboration is working on a brace that uses flexible textile sensors to warn wearers when they are ready to fall.
Wearables with airbags to cushion users in the event of a fall are on the way.
Millennials are the attention of today’s tech CEOs. However, tomorrow’s digital gadgets will provide ground-breaking techniques to prevent disease and increase independence. That’s why, as the population of the United States continues to age, it’s time to start thinking about seniors.