The voice-controlled Kanega Watch was specifically created for older adults. If it thinks they’ve fallen, it buzzes and flashes an emergency message. If they don’t respond, it connects to a call center. It can also be programmed for medication reminders.
Garnet Persinger, 80, of Pittsboro, North Carolina, wears her Kanega Watch all the time. “If you live alone, you need to have an easy way to get help,” she says.
For family members with Alzheimer’s, the GPS SmartSole can notify caregivers if someone has wandered or gotten lost. The insert is placed in a senior’s shoe and tracks their location, notifying family members via text or email if the person goes beyond set perimeters.
Smart devices that help carers from afar
A 2018 AARP survey found that three out of four people age 50 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age. Smart-home technology, with devices powered by voice control, artificial intelligence (AI), and smart sensors, are making it safer to age at home, while keeping caregivers informed. “Technology is getting better, easier to use, cheaper, and much better tailored to the needs of older adults and their caregivers,” says Majd Alwan, senior vice president of technology and business strategy for LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit providers of aging services.
The new care app Briocare, with voice control via Amazon’s Alexa, is geared to seniors aging alone. Along with curated content, video chats, and photo sharing, they get disease-specific tips, spoken medication reminders and refill alerts, and can tell their smart speaker if there’s an emergency. Through a mobile app, a family member can program reminders for appointments, medication, and daily routines, or personal messages in their own voices.
Smart, connected home devices including thermostats, light bulbs, and faucets can be controlled via voice command or mobile app. A smart smoke and carbon monoxide detector will not only notify an older adult by voice or alarm, but also send smartphone alerts to caregivers and can even connect with other smart devices to unlock doors or turn on lights. And, home sensors placed around the house can alert family caregivers to a health issue. For example, if a sensor in the refrigerator hasn’t been triggered all day, it could be a sign that a parent hasn’t eaten or isn’t feeling well. New devices in development can even use AI to predict a potential fall, helping seniors prevent a dangerous situation before it happens and giving family critical information to determine what kind of care is needed most.
“[Tech like this] will revolutionize how we age, deliver, and receive aging services in the future,” says Alwan.
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