Technology for Better Aging Devices Designed to Make Aging Easier

The following is a list of technology devices that I came across while researching a paper on technology designed to make the process of aging easier.  I have included my opinion on the device or system usefulness and whether or not I feel it is intrusive to an aging individual’s personal life or information.

I hope you find the information helpful!

 

Tracking/Monitoring

 “BeClose is an innovative aging in place technology that helps seniors, families and caregivers stay in touch. Using discreet wireless sensors placed in the home, BeClose tracks an elderly loved one’s daily routine. Caregivers are able to check on them at any time using a private, secure web page. If there are any disruptions, remote caregivers will be alerted by phone, e-mail or text message. Because everything is wireless, the system is easy to set up—just plug in the base station and place the battery operated sensors around the home. There is no need for a second phone line or a broadband connection.”
BeClose, 866-574-1784, www.beclose.com  BeClose was recently bought out by Alarm.com Wellness and the following is the new description of the product:  “Powered by Alarm.com’s industry-leading technology, Wellness leverages real-time data from smart sensors throughout the home or apartment and monitors for dangerous situations or wellness indicators. Unlike traditional Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), Wellness proactively alerts family members about situations such as nighttime falls, wandering, changes in sleep patterns or sleeplessness, sedentary lifestyles, unusual or erratic eating habits, and others.”

This is probably one of the more invasive products on the market.  It is set up to track an elderly loved one’s daily routine and it is tracking, recording and reporting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is no privacy with this system.  While it may lead to preventing accidents or lead to injuries and illnesses being tended to faster, it is going to be a difficult sell to an aging individual who wants to maintain their independence by aging at home.

Independa is a software company that provides supportive independence products and services to older adults and their caregivers who typically are remote some or all of the time. Independa augments traditional caregiving by providing fully integrated, cloud-based solutions including a caregiver web application, a rich set of telephony-based solutions, comprehensive solutions for social engagement and health, environmental and activity monitoring. Social engagement solutions span the telephony-based system, as well as a single-touch application running on a tablet, touchscreen computer or a television. Independa provides caregivers and the care team with real time alerts allowing for immediate, efficient and effective intervention whenever customized parameters are exceeded. Independa integrates its software platform with existing systems to foster continuity and communication among care team members, patients and families. Independa, 800-815-7829, http://www.independa.com

This product seems much less invasive than other products that offer similar monitoring.  It seems that instead of monitoring and reporting 24/7, this product monitors and if activity or bio-feedback results in a reading which is outside of the pre-set parameters, it alerts the appropriate parties.  As such, the wellbeing of the aging individual is still protected because the products alerts when attention is needed, but the aging individual can still maintain their privacy on a normal day-to-day basis because the product is not continually reporting data on all activities and bio-feedback.

The GrandCare System is connected to any dedicated Internet connection and communicates with “wireless” sensors throughout the residence. Designated caregivers can log into the GrandCare website to send communications to their loved one, view activity and tele-wellness sensor information and customize the automatic caregiver alerts. A caregiver may choose to receive a call, e-mail or text message if specified conditions occur (medication noncompliance, unusual activity, door opens at unusual time, etc.). GrandCare also incorporates socialization, entertainment and communication elements. Family can send pictures, messages, e-mails, reminders, calendar appointments, voice messages, family videos, music and more right to the GrandCare System (Interactive Touch and Non-interactive TV models available). The loved one may also choose to play games, engage in brain benders, listen to favorite music, watch old film clips, view news and weather reports and more, right from their own GrandCare System. GrandCare Systems LLC, 262-338-6147, http://www.grandcare.com

Much like BeClose, this also is one of the more invasive products on the market.  It is set up to track an elderly loved one’s daily routine and it is tracking, recording and reporting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There is no privacy with this system.  While it may lead to preventing accidents or lead to injuries and illnesses being tended to faster, it is going to be a difficult sell to an aging individual who wants to maintain their independence by aging at home.

Communication

GreatCall Responder, in conjunction with the 5Star Urgent Response Service, is a wireless, mobile PERS device that is an easy, convenient and affordable way to protect one’s self or one’s family members, at home or on the go. It is small (1.8 ounces), stylish and available in silver and black. Users can conveniently attach the GPS-enabled Responder to a keychain, purse or backpack. By pressing the button on the Responder, users are immediately connected to highly-trained certified response agents who will identify them and their location, conference in family or friends, dispatch 911 emergency services, access a nurse or provide any additional assistance, if needed. Consumers can also use the device to contact 911 directly. No matter the situation—walking home alone at night, feeling unsafe in any situation or living independently and wanting some extra security—anyone can feel empowered knowing that 5Star is standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to respond. GreatCall, 800-733-6632, http://www.greatcall.com

While this is definitely a beneficial product in that it allows an aging individual to communicate a need for emergency services, it is somewhat outdated.  Also, an issue may arise in the event that an individual has fallen, hit their head and become unconscious or is for some other reason unable to press the button to request help.  This product should be considered minimally invasive to privacy.

Telikin is a simple and easy-to-use family computer that combines video chat, photo sharing, e-mail and other popular features into a sleek, touchscreen device. Telikin comes with its software fully installed and ready to go out of the box, so it is simple and quick to set up. Available in Telekin Touch, with an 18” touchscreen screen, and Telikin Elite, with a 20” touchscreen screen. Telikin, 800-230-3881, http://www.telikin.com

This product sounds like a great way to keep in touch with loved ones and socialize.  Issues may be if an aging individual has motor skill problems, it may not be as simple to use as advertised.  Also, there is a greater chance of misplacing or dropping this device than some of the other devices currently on the market.  This device seems to be minimally invasive to privacy as it appears to only allow communication with third parties when the aging individual activates that service.

telylabs’ telyHD delivers high-definition (HD) Skype video calls directly to an HDMI-compatible TV. By plugging telyHD into the HMDI port on a TV, the user can make HD video calls to any Skype user, on any device, anywhere in the world. The all-in-one unit does not require a computer, nor is there any software to install. Designed for the living room, telyHD features a high-definition camera with wide-angle lens and a microphone array. The unit also allows users to share photos from an SD card or USB memory stick and to send and receive video mail. telyHD is powered by Google’s Android operating system for continued delivery of new applications. No monthly fees are required. telylabs, 650-318-3549, http://www.tely.com

This product could come in handy for aging individuals with mobility issues.  Being able to have this device attached to a television in an aging individuals living room would make it easier for that individual to simply turn on the television, call the selected person on Skype and talk from their favorite chair or couch.  Also, since this device is only activated when the aging individual chooses to use it and it is not monitoring and reporting at all times, it is minimally invasive to the aging individual’s privacy.  It appears to be an excellent product for allowing aging individuals, and really any individual, to stay in touch with family and friends.  Given the fact that it connects to a television, the screen size is larger than most computers, tablets or smart phones, so it should make it easier to see the person with whom an individual is communicating.

Smartphones

8 Easiest Smartphones To Use For Seniors and The Elderly

There is a large a number of smartphones in the market, and some of them truly stand out when it comes to convenience and user-friendliness. The list below contains some of the easiest and convenient smartphones that do not only cater to the needs of a younger consumer but elderly too.

  1. iPhone 6

iPhone is pretty popular particularly in the United States. There was always a strong debate regarding the size of the iPhones since Android devices were comparatively larger until Apple decided to launch iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus both around 5-inch mark. Although, iPhone 6 Plus was larger it didn’t do that well in the market. However, iPhone 6 became pretty successful due to its large screen and high-speed processor making it easier for elderly to see and operate.

  1. Nokia Lumia 1520

Nokia Lumia 1520 is yet another example of a great smartphone from the company. Although it is a Windows phone, it still has lots of features in it to make it an elderly-friendly phone. For example, the screen size is up to 6-inch, which makes visibility easier for senior with eyesight problems. Too much reflection on the screen can also be a problem for some elderly, which is where the Anti-glare option in the phone comes in handy.

  1. HTC One Mini

Despite its name the HTC One Mini is not a small phone by any means. It still offers a screen up to 4.3-inch. Not just that it also comes with 1GB Ram and 1800 mAh battery. The reason why HTC One Mini stands at number six in the list of 8 easiest smartphones to use for seniors and the elderly because it does not only offers a fairly large screen but also speakers on the front side of the phone, which makes it easier for seniors with hearing problems. The speakers in latest “One” series are loud and are a standout feature amongst its competitors.

  1. Samsung Galaxy S4

It is fair to say that the Samsung Galaxy S4 has brought a revolution in terms of smartphone technology, offering great sound, vibrant graphics and super fast processor.  Also, it comes with a 5-inch large display, which obviously makes visibility clearer for seniors. Besides that the phone comes with an internal storage of up to 32 GB, so elderlies do not have to worry about getting an extendable memory. Just hand the phone over to your grandparents and they will love it.

  1. Huawei P8max

Huawei has certainly announced itself in the market with some of the most amazing smartphones and is now amongst the cellular giants of the world.  There is a long list of smartphones from the company. However, the latest P8max stands out for several reasons.  The most prominent thing about the phone is obviously its 6.8-inch large screen, ideal for elders with eyesight issues. The phone is extremely fast thanks to 3GB RAM. And most importantly Huawei offers the best battery time out of all the smartphones in the market, freeing seniors from the hassle of charging their phone again and again, so it is definitely one of easiest smartphones to use for seniors and the elderly.

  1. Samsung Galaxy Mega

Yet another phone from Samsung, Galaxy Mega comes with a 6.3-inch large screen with a vibrant display. It doesn’t only offer a crystal clear display to elders, but it’s also fast and extremely user-friendly. It is a modern yet easy to operate smartphone that is ideal for seniors.

  1. Samsung Galaxy Note Edge

Samsung is one of the most popular smartphone companies in the world. They are famous not only because their phones are extremely user-friendly but also because they are versatile. Samsung Galaxy Note Edge is one of the latest smartphones in the market that comes with 3GB of Ram and screen of 5.6-inch, which makes typing on the phone easier for the elderly. Another major reason why it is an ideal phone for the seniors is because it comes with “S Pen” which lets you doodle on the screen like a regular pen, so if your grandpa or grandma find it difficult to type messages on the Note Edge, they can simply use S Pen to write the message.

  1. LG G2

Leading the list of 8 easiest smartphones to use for seniors and the elderly is LG G2, which is by far one of the most successful smartphones LG has ever produced. There are plenty of reasons why G2 is ideal for elderly people -the phone comes with a 5.2-inch large screen with an extremely vibrant display, which offers great visibility, as well as large app icons to make it easier for seniors to see the apps they want to use frequently.

Entertainment

TV Ears helps people with hearing loss hear the television clearly without turning up the volume. With TV Ears technology, users can set their own headset volume and tone while others around them set the television volume to their preferred level. The 3.0 system works with most TVs and covers up to 600 sq. ft. TV Ears headsets feature the patented Comply Foam TV Ears Tips. Each TV Ears Tip provides an acoustically sealed chamber within the ear that reduces room noise and provides comfort, cleanliness and clarity for outstanding word discrimination so that television dialog is clear and understandable. The TV Ears 3.0 wireless headset weighs only 1.6 oz. and is designed to rest under the chin so it stays in place when the user is lying down. TV Ears Inc., 888-883-3277, www.tvears.com

This is a great product which allows aging individuals with hearing problems to be able to still enjoy watching television without having to turn the volume up on the television set and possibly disturb others within the home.  This product is also minimally invasive to privacy as it does not need to communicate with outside parties to operate and assist the aging individual.

Emergency Help

MobileHelp, “The Anywhere Help Button, is a GPS mobile personal emergency response system. It enables users to summon emergency help anytime, anywhere with a single button press. The Duo system consists of a base station, pendant or wrist button and a mobile unit. At home, it works like a traditional medical alert system. Away from home, the small, hand-held mobile unit can be carried in a pocket or purse, or clipped to a belt. The same pendent or wrist button used at home also works with the mobile unit. A push of the button automatically connects the user to a MobileHelp emergency operator who knows who and where he is, and can send help to the exact location, even if the user cannot communicate. MobileHelp also offers the Solo system for those without a landline phone in their home. No contract required; 30-day risk-free trial.” MobileHelp, 800-800-1710, www.mobilehelpnow.com

While this is definitely a beneficial product, it is somewhat outdated.  There are newer models that have motion detecting sensors that can tell when a fall has occurred.  The motion sensors can be extremely beneficial in the event that an individual has fallen, hit their head and become unconscious or is for some other reason unable to press the button to request help.  A good feature about this product is the upgrade to being able to use it to call for help outside of the home.  The original products were for in home use only, so being able to use this product wherever you are to request help is a definite improvement.  This product should be considered minimally invasive to privacy.  The GPS enabled tracker is only activated in the event that the button is pressed and a call for help is relayed.

As mentioned above, newer models include a fall detection feature.  With this model, when a fall is detected, a signal is sent to the base station and the MobileHelp emergency operator is alerted.  If communication cannot be established, help will be sent to the GPS location shown for the individual wearing the device.  Again, this product should be considered minimally invasive to privacy, as the GPS enabled tracker is only activated in the event that a fall has been detected.

Biometric/medical use

 Biotricity/BioLife. “Biotricity’s preventative consumer healthcare solution, biolife, leverages the expertise gained from bioflux to help individuals track and manage their risks of cardiac issues. By aggregating medical-grade biometric data with the user’s lifestyle patterns, including diet and exercise, biolife converts this information into easy-to-understand number scores for users to track their progress. Armed with this real-time feedback, enhanced by a social support system, individuals will be empowered to self-manage their disease risk – taking charge of their own health destiny.” Learn not much more bit more at press release.

This device is an excellent way to keep up with various health information for an aging individual.  It allows for vital signs to be monitored during all activities.  Then the aging individual is able to review the data with their health care provider and adjust activities, diet and medications as needed.  Although this device tracks and maintains information regarding personal medical information, it appears that this information is not automatically shared and allows the individual to select with whom they wish to share this private information.  As such, it is not as much of an intrusion on the individual’s privacy as some of the other devices currently on the market.

  BlueMarbleGames“Our system expands and enhances communication between providers and clients, to manage their care, and to track their progress in an effort to ensure therapeutic interventions are available anytime and anywhere. Our games entertain, engage, educate, and challenge physical and cognitive skills for people of all ages and abilities. With comprehensive game performance, data tracking, and analytics our games do more than offer players rewarding entertainment; they also directly update medical professionals with their client’s valuable, accurate and detailed human performance metrics. Players can play the games anywhere at any time using a mobile tablet.” Learn more at Blue Marble Game Company.

This product is a cross between entertainment and medical tracking.  While the aging individual is utilizing the games available from BlueMarbleGames, performance is being tracked, analyzed and reported back to that individual’s health care provider.  As long as this information is only shared with the health care provider selected by the aging individual, it seems that the product is minimally invasive to privacy.

  CascadeConnectedCare. “Self-dubbed ‘The Internet of Things for Independent Living’, Cascade Connected Care is a powerful analytics platform connecting elderly and vulnerable people to their families, clinicians, caregivers and call centres – providing cost effective, personal and enhance[i]d quality of care, including data from wearable tech such as FitBit and provide detailed insight to care professionals, emergency services, GPs and families. Data from multiple settings can be aggregated and used to guide strategic planning.” Learn more at Cascade 3d.

While I appreciate what this company is trying to do, the method for information collection and the use of that information is incredibly invasive.  The company proposes to have sensors in all rooms, hall ways and even in the refrigerator, cabinets, bed and bathrooms.  I don’t think you can really call it independent living when an individual’s every movement is being monitored and reported to designated health care providers and family members.

 Telesofia“Medical’s proprietary platform allows healthcare providers to automatically generate branded personalized educational videos for patients. Telesofia’s platform currently supports a wide variety of applications such as explaining proper use of medication, directing preparations for medical procedures, and providing discharge instructions. Videos can be personalized to each patient based on their demographics, lab results, specific medical instructions, specific product used, and more. The videos are easily integrated into existing workflows and platforms. The fully branded videos are sent to patients through text or email messages, or embedded in patient portals/apps.” Learn more at Telesofia.

I think the idea behind Telesofia’s product is an excellent idea.  Allowing an individual to enter in minimal data, which presumably is not then reported to anyone, and watch a step by step how to on using medication prescribed to that individual and including the do’s and don’ts has great potential benefit.  One downside I see is that an individual with cognitive impairments might not be able to access and use Telesofia, meaning that individual would most likely need to have some sort of home health care assistance.  If that individual had to have home health care assistance anyway, that home health care assistant could just give that individual their medication and monitor the individual taking the medication, as well as, make sure that nothing that is contra-indicated with that medication is even available for use by the individual needing home health care assistance.  In that situation, I do not see Telesofia being of any benefit.  I could see in this situation a possible use by family caregivers to educate themselves on the proper use of the medication and what should not be used in conjunction with the medication.  Overall, I really like Telesofia and think it has great potential benefit to a great number of individuals, not just the aging population.

Pager. “Pager is a healthcare startup reinventing the traditional doctor-patient experience. Our on-demand service connects you with board-certified doctors that provide the care you need, whenever and wherever. Doctors will come to your home, office or hotel within 2 hours – a convenient alternative to crowded emergency rooms and busy doctor’s offices. The Pager app takes care of everything so the patient can focus on getting better faster.” Learn more at Pager.

This product/service offers ease of use for seniors and allows them to remain in their home and not try to find transportation, which can be a serious issue for many seniors.  Another great feature about this service is that it allows the health care provider to see the aging individual in their own environment.  If it is at the aging individual’s home, the health care provider can see if there are potential issues that might be hazardous to the aging individual.  The health care provider could then discuss those issues with the aging individual and propose solutions to the potential issues.  This service seems like it would allow the aging individual autonomy and privacy until a health care provider is needed.  Because the health care provider comes to the aging individual, no third party, such as an aging individual’s child is involved if the aging individual does not wish for them to be involved.  Thereby further maintaining the privacy of the aging individual.  One downside is that much like many other services geared toward assisting the aging population, this service is not available in all areas.  Also, due to the mobile nature of this service, I would have concerns about some privacy issues with the health information gathered.  If any specimens are collected, how are they transported?  Is there a risk of specimens getting confused with other patient specimens in transport, if more than one patient is seen?  What is the security of the specimens?  What is the security of any health information obtained?  If it is input into a mobile device, is transferred over secure networks once the health care provider is back at their office?  If it is transferred while at the location where the aging individual is being seen and treated, is it possible that any of the information could be transferred or picked up by unsecure networks?  These are questions that I do not have the answer to, but would want answered before I recommended a service like this to individuals with whom I work.

The TabSafe medication management system reminds, dispenses, alerts and posts information on compliance, inventory and other health information that is accessible from any Internet capable device. The base unit (for one user) is installed in a convenient location in the home. It is modularly expandable in units of four to accommodate individual needs (a single unit of four can dispense up to 13 medications). The medication is inserted by the pharmacy, homeowner or caregiver into a cartridge (the design allows for one type of medication per cartridge or multiple medications using an optional multidose cartridge). A patented design allows one tablet or dose of more than one to be released at a time. A memory chip embedded in each TabSafe cartridge allows the pharmacist to interface and enter each customer’s medication information at the same time that a label is generated. The TabSafe Personal Health Website is a database of information about the medication supplied to each individual TabSafe unit—the status of each cartridge (which medication it contains, the quantity remaining, schedule times and expiration dates), detailed prescription data and compliance records. It also coordinates reordering. All information is HIPAA compliant and inaccessible to anyone without log-in access. TabSafe Medical Services, Inc., 877-700-8600, http://www.tabsafe.com

This product seems like an excellent way to assist an aging individual keep their medication straight.  Based on information supplied when the medication is filled, the system automatically dispenses the needed medication at the appropriate time.  Thus preventing taking the wrong medication at the wrong time or mistakenly taking one medication multiple times and not taking other medications at all.  Although the information provided by the product website states that it posts information on compliance, I am not certain on how this would be done.  Once the medication is removed from the dispensing unit, there is no way for the unit to know whether or not the medication was taken, set down or flushed down the toilet.  Other than this, the product seems like it would be very beneficial to anyone with multiple medications to take at varying times of the day.  It also seems minimally invasive to privacy since the only people with access to the data appear to be the pharmacy staff and they have access to most of this information already.  The only new information would be the tracking of whether or not the dispensed medication was actually removed from the unit and whether or not it was done timely.  Having this information would just allow the pharmacy staff to speak to the aging individual regarding why there was non-compliance and making sure that the aging individual understood the importance of compliance.

Fitbit is dedicated to helping people lead healthier, more active lives. To that end, the company creates innovative products and online services that harness the power of new technologies to make people more aware of their everyday activities and motivate them to do more to be healthy. The Fitbit Ultra Wireless Activity Tracker ($99.95, retail) displays real-time activity stats so it is easier to reach goals. It tracks steps taken, stairs climbed, distance travelled, calories burned, activity level and sleep quality. The Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale ($129.95, retail) allows users to track their weight, body fat percentage and BMI over time with a host of online graphs and mobile tools. Fitbit Aria is available for pre-sale now and will ship in April. Fitbit, http://www.fitbit.com

This is also an excellent product for tracking health information.   It allows for vital signs to be monitored during all activities and then the aging individual is able to review the data with their health care provider and adjust activities, diet and medications as needed.  Although this device tracks and maintains information regarding personal medical information, it appears that this information is not automatically shared and allows the individual to select with whom they wish to share this private information.  As such, it is not as much of an intrusion on the individual’s privacy as some of the other devices currently on the market.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Technology for Better Aging”

  1. Great post and so necessary in this day and age. I have been in the aging/tech/digital health world for the past 11 years. I was previously an executive at GrandCare and now am a private consultant in the aging/tech space. I wanted to clear up that BeClose is now a part of Alarm.com and is not very intrusive, instead it catches outliers and notifies designated parties if/when an incident occurs. GrandCare is a completely modular system, starting with a touchscreen interface designed for ease of family communication, video chat, accessing information, schedule, medication reminders and more. Optional telehealth devices can be added to manage chronic conditions, self wellness management and to bring along to physician appointments. Most do not require activity sensors, but if they do they can add on a door sensor to notify a caregiver if the door was left open or a temp sensor if the heat is not working.

    All of the systems above, namely the remote monitoring ones, are completely customizable and just like any tablet or apple device they can help out and enable as much or as little as you’d like. If a loved one is super independent and just wants some reminders here and there and video chat, they start small with the touchscreen and expand later. Hope this helps out anyone that may be looking for technology to support aging in place.
    It’s definitely a liberating experience.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I am glad to know someone is reading the materials I post:)

      I should have said that the monitoring systems could be intrusive. Thinking from an aging person’s prospective, not all families take into account what their aging loved one is capable of doing independently. Nor do they always consider what an aging loved one would want, as far as monitoring goes. The systems in and of themselves are not overly intrusive.

  2. I use the Alarm.com System through Independence with Wellness out of Orange County Ca. My father in law is in his eighties. Worked on motors, the house, the pool and the yard. Has every tool known to man and was fluent with their uses. He no longer drives, but asks me to remind him that he needs to get the car in for service. A few months ago the side garage door contact alerted me that the door had been opened. This door is only opened by me when I am there to take care of the yard. I headed to the house in time to find him setting an extension ladder to trim a 25 foot palm tree. Something he has done several times since they’ve owned the house. Just not in the past 15 yrs. This system saved him from injury and possible death and saved the family from having to see him go through the potential aftermath after doing something he thought he was more than capable of doing. I want my father in law to die in his sleep not after a fall that lands him the hospital and eventually a home that isn’t his home. This system is in no way intrusive and I believe that our elderly loved ones deserve to live independently, with dignity and above all live safely.

    1. Steve,

      Thank you for your comments. It is good to get the point of view of individuals who use the service. I am glad the monitoring system has helped you and your family and has kept your father-in-law safe.

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