Woman On Tablet

Technology: The Smart Companion

Posted on December 04, 2018

What do daily life, health monitoring and safety have in common? They all have the potential to be positively impacted by an increase in the accessibility of technology. 

Integrated technology is now more than just counting steps or video-chatting; from bridging the caregiver shortage to keeping up with senior housing trends, it could help solve some of the most important issues facing our nation’s senior care industry. 

Accessibility Shapes the Future

Ensuring that technologies are increasingly accessible for people of all ages is critical to embracing innovation and putting it to use to benefit a variety of audiences. Everyday technologies that people already use is a great place to start.

Technologies Abound

  • It’s not just about counting steps anymore. The Apple Watch Series 4 has entered the medical sphere. The wearable technology can detect falls and comes equipped with an electrocardiogram monitor. Apple even gained FDA clearance to use the watch’s sensor and accompanying app to detect atrial fibrillation, or A-fib. Having devices that people already wear could make it easier to detect health irregularities.
  • Best Buy recently ventured into the world of senior health care when they acquired GreatCall, a leader in senior health technology solutions, for $800 million. Additionally, the retailer has expanded other health care-related technologies they sell to include more options for the whole family. This includes Assured Living, Best Buy’s senior caregiving technology solution, which can share with families real-time alerts in case of fall or missed medication, as well as insights into activity levels.
  • Specialized tablets, like GrandPad, which got its start at the Mayo Clinic, are specifically designed for older users and require no wi-fi, home phone lines or passwords to remember. The technology also features oversized buttons and other easy-to-use features.
  • Voice-first technologies, like the Amazon Echo, Google Home or others geared to older adults, can help individuals avoid social isolation, age in their homes longer and stay connected to outside news and happenings. They can even give users health-related prompts, like reminders to drink water or to meet fitness goals.

Innovative technologies are not only becoming more embraced and accessible for the health and safety of aging adults, but they also have the potential to help solve other emerging needs.

Bridging Health Care Workforce Shortages

It’s no secret that our nation faces a senior health care worker and caregiver shortage as a result of a quickly growing aging population. Leveraging in-home and assistive technologies can bridge the caregiver gap and reduce the number of adults entering long-term care facilities by allowing people to stay in their homes longer.

Aging in place is an increasingly popular choice amongst older adults, and as traditional senior housing options face a lack of vacancies, it is in our best interest to find ways to support this trend of independence using technology. In our state alone, 80% of Minnesotans plan to remain at home as long as possible. Supportive technologies like health care monitoring, safety alerts and easy communication tools have the power to enable older adults to live safely and happily at home as they wish, without feelings of isolation or lacking care resources.

The Gift of Innovation

Considering the gift of technology as a holiday present for an aging loved one? Ask yourself these questions before you buy. It may help you decide what type of solution is the best fit!

  • Is your loved one open to learning new technologies?
  • Does he or she plan to age at home?
  • Does he or she have a health situation that requires continuous monitoring?
  • Will the technology be used for health and safety monitoring, social connectivity or both?
Connectivity of technology solutions will drive health care outcomes, customer satisfaction and operational efficiencies.

From watches to tablets, as technology becomes more accessible, we have the opportunity to leverage its power and help solve some of the most important issues facing our nation’s senior care industry.

This story is from the November 2018 issue of Northfield Retirement Community's newsletter, NRC Insights. Read the full issue here.