23/02/2021 by Kim Stevens 0 Comments
How Technology Could Change The Lives Of The Elderly
We’ve spoken recently about how advances in technology can improve the lives of both ourselves as we age, and our elderly loved ones. Smart devices and apps have changed the way we communicate, shop, and even answer the door - all of which can be hugely beneficial to an older person who is not as mobile or is living with a condition such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
But changes in technology offer so much more than just controlling and operating everyday objects around the home, and keeping in touch with our families. How is technology changing the lives of older people when it comes to being mobile, bathing, and travelling? Being able to continue doing these most basic of things independently for as long as possible is hugely important to older people, and technology is constantly evolving and being adapted to aid the elderly - both now, and in the future.
Getting up and down the stairs is something we take for granted - until we’re suddenly too frail or immobile to do it anymore! Of course, stairlifts are nothing new; in fact, King Henry VII had one in the 16th century based on a rope and pulleys system, with the modern version being invented in the 1920’s, implementing rollers.
Today, the introduction of straight, curved, and even outdoor stairlifts, have changed the way that older people can get around their homes, and there are even lifts that come with features such as perched seats and wireless remotes to make things even easier.
All of this means that getting up and down the stairs is no longer a daily time-consuming struggle, and older people no longer have to consider living downstairs or perhaps moving into a ground floor property or bungalow when the stairs start to become a bit of a challenge.
Something else we take for granted: a nice hot bath, but for an elderly person, being able to bathe comfortably and safely isn’t so easy. The worry ofslipping or struggling to get in and out of an ordinary bath can make maintaining personal hygiene difficult, but the creation of walk-in baths and showers has alleviated many of those fears and given older people some of their independence back.
Many models have built-in powered seats that move up and down to help you get in and out, and are designed to be roomy and comfortable.
I’m not talking about just looking dapper - I’m talking about intelligent clothing that can detect health problems and prevent injuries through the use of technology.
Socks seem to be the clever clothing of choice, with recent developments giving us Edema Socks that detect and notify the wearer of swollen feet - often a sign of health ailments, and SmartSox, for people with diabetes. SmartSox uses fibre optics to detect excessive pressure, heat and misplaced joint angles that can cause foot ulcers. This is particularly useful as diabetics can often lose the sensation in their feet, and might not be able to feel such changes.
Not yet being manufactured, but heavily researched, is the idea that vibrating shoe insoles could prevent falls. Studies have determined that the insoles could improve the wearer’s balance and stability and make af all 70% less likely. Another technology that’s not in production yet, but is certainly in the pipeline is a shirt that can administer CPR. The shirt, that will be able to sense a heart attack and provide potentially life-saving treatment is a while off yet - but with shirts bearing sensors already on the market (used primarily by athletes), the basic technological know-how is already there, and it’s only a matter of time!
The stuff of science fiction, right? Well, as it turns out, you could be whizzing around in a self-driving car before you’re wearing a CPR-giving shirt!Older people dread the idea of having to give up driving - and for many, staying behind that wheel is the key to maintaining their independence. Self-driving cars are already in the testing stage and use sensors to evaluate the surroundings and software to do the actual driving.
Predictions are that self-driving cars will be widely available within the next decade, and that they could be one of the best advances in technology to benefit older people.
For the elderly, the world changing so rapidly around them can be frightening, but with those changes come new technologies and inventions that can make life easier and more enjoyable - both for our elderly loved ones now, and forfuture generations.
If you want to know more about ways in which an elderly loved one can retain their independence in their own home right now, give our team a call and see how Care In Kent can help.