The 75 million American baby boomers are entering retirement age. By 2035, there will be 78 million people aged 65 and older, greater than the 76.4 million under the age of 18.
Many seniors choose to live in assisted living retirement communities where healthcare professionals take care of their medical and special care needs. However, one trend is growing among the elderly population: aging in place.
Aging in Place
Aging in place is when seniors choose to grow old in their own homes and communities instead of being admitted into facilities. This living situation allows older adults the chance to remain independent even as they enter their twilight years.
But aging independently matters just as much as aging well. This means that seniors need in-home supplementary tools and facilities to support their healthcare needs, maintaining their quality of life as they grow old.
Luckily, technology has introduced several innovations that can help older adults live fuller, healthier lives in their own homes.
Telehealth is the distribution of healthcare services at a distance by using telecommunications technologies, such as video conferencing. This allows patients to receive clinical services without leaving their homes.
Through this innovation, older adults can schedule checkups and consultations and receive medical diagnoses through their computers or smartphones. Telehealth reduces the expenses for hospital visits, which can be a challenge for seniors who can no longer drive.
Physicians also have more flexibility when setting appointments, so they can easily check on their patients using online apps or video chat tools. More frequent checkups help doctors assess symptoms and health issues with more accuracy.
- Personal Emergency Response Systems
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), an older person is brought in the emergency room every 11 seconds for a fall-related injury. Personal emergency response systems (PERS) help seniors get the medical assistance they need in case of similar accidents.
Personal alert systems usually come in the form of lightweight pendants or non-restrictive wristbands. In such formats, even older adults with limited mobility can easily press the device to alert their caregiver or contact an emergency response representative.
Most PERS devices only operate inside the house, but newer models can now work even when the user is mobile.
- Voice-Activated Smart Home
Voice-activated technologies make day-to-day activities easier for older adults. Smart speakers can understand and respond to straightforward, natural voice commands, which is a big help to people with mobility or dexterity issues and vision loss.
Seniors can make phone calls, read the news, send emails and messages, and even get weather information by simply using voice commands. Some home devices, such as lights, outlets, thermostats, and door locks can also be connected to smart systems, so older adults can operate them hands-free.
Aside from these three technologies, modern services also make the lives of the elderly more comfortable. Same-day deliveries, ride-booking apps, and light housekeeping services are especially helpful for older adults who can no longer drive out to get groceries or perform house cleaning tasks.
These technologies and conveniences empower seniors by helping them retain their independence. Such innovations are advantageous, especially since the US is experiencing a shortage of caregivers. Advancements dedicated to elderly care can help fill this gap.