When we think of technology, we often think of younger generations with their complicated and ever-changing devices. Smart phones, smart watches, smart cars: the smart revolution seems to have missed adults over 60. Or has it? Smart walkers and smart alert devices are being developed to help older adults maintain their independence, living healthier, longer lives.
Smart walkers are a new type of traditional walker that is retrofitted with technology that helps the walker record vital information on its user. This information includes daily rhythm, walking distances, duration and speed of walking, and, importantly, any changes in hand grip strength, one of the key indicators of health in the elderly.
Senior scientist Olli Kuusisto of the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, the company that developed the retrofitted technology, believes that these features are just the beginning of new products and ideas, saying:
“Other features can also be developed, such as monitoring of motoric state or fall alarm. The measured data can be compared to the user’s own goals and those of a reference group or a friend. Emerging trends can be monitored on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.”
This information can be forwarded to loved ones or care providers, offering a daily picture of an elderly person’s health and well-being.
Smart alert devices
When it comes to protecting an elderly family member’s independence, health, and well-being, the original smart technology was the smart alert device. The famous (and often mocked) phrase, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up” is a serious consideration for elderly people who wish to continue to live alone. Falls are the leading cause of mortality in people over 65. While the best treatment is prevention through exercise and activity, smart alert devices can help independent elderly people feel safer in their own homes.
There are a number of different smart alert systems, with different features and price points for any budget.
These smart alert systems have truly evolved past the bulky necklace designed to simply alert proper caregivers or authorities when the wearer has fallen. New wearables designed specifically with elderly in mind are changing the way the wearers maintain their independence. Here are five of the latest options.
For the more fashion conscious, this smart wearable moves way past the clunky red button looped around the neck to a stylish version with an interchangeable wristband. This wearable has an internal sensor that is connected wirelessly to battery-powered GPS beacons in the user’s home. These sensors are able to tell when a wearer is walking, sitting, standing, or lying down, transmitting that information to the cloud where caregivers and family members can see it. The GPS transmitters can tell monitors where the wearer is located in the home, which can be helpful in an emergency.
Charging is wireless, and this wearable also features emergency alert buttons.
Many older people are reluctant to adopt new technology because it seems intimidating or difficult to use. They may also not want to have uni-tasking items cluttering up their home. The G21 Emergency Watch address both of those issues and serves as a stylish emergency alert system.
This smart wearable looks like a watch, functions like a watch, and is also a mobile phone. At the press of a button, the watch will begin to call the wearer’s emergency contacts, continuing through them until someone answers. Once a person answers, the watch can be spoken into like a radio, hands-free.
For even more multi-tasking at a reasonable price, the Burg 31 Cellphone Watch is the smart wearable to beat. At $129, this watch not only serves as an emergency alert system and GPS tracker (good for both the elderly and children or teens) but it can also text and play music. It does all of this without a smartphone connection using a fully integrated SIM card. The Burg 31 can also be connected to iOS and Android devices if the wearer prefers that, and the battery lasts on standby for two days without charging (unless the wearer is a heavy user). Wearers can program three emergency numbers into the phone, with hands-free calling.
The face of the watch features analog numbers (not the sleek digital variety), so for those wearers who prefer a more traditional-looking watch, this is a great option.
Although this watch functions as an emergency alert system, sending the appropriate rescue workers at the touch of a button, it also functions as a planning and notification tool for older wearers who might need reminders about medications and doctor’s appointments. This smart wearable connects to a Home Hub for data transmission. The Hub then connects to a mobile app so that family members can track daily activity and monitor the wearer. Users can track their steps with a built-in pedometer, too.
The Lively Safety watch is available in ten colors and features a sleeker, more modern look, similar to the Apple watch.
5. UnaliWear Kanega Watch
This final smart wearable for seniors has many of the same functions of the above wearables with three significant distinctions: built-in fall detection, speech recognition, and the ability to work in conjunction with hearing aids. The UnaliWear Kanega features GPS locators, cell phone functionality, and Wi-Fi communications.
The look of this watch is a hybrid between a traditional analog display that is also capable of receiving texts and notifications. The UnaliWear Kanega was fully funded by a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and promises to “
These smart wearables are making independent and safe living a viable option for more seniors. Which device would you choose for yourself or someone you love?