New healthcare apps and wireless digital health tools are being introduced every day, with growing use among seniors. In this article, we explore popular mHealth tools and technologies, as well as health monitoring and safety features that are making a major difference in the lives of seniors and caregivers.
Thanks to continuing innovations in healthcare and technology, today’s seniors can lead healthier lives and remain independent longer. Even some of the most simple advances in mHealth tools - from fitness trackers to mobile-app-controlled hearing aids - are playing an increasingly important role in senior health.
Here's a rundown of just a few of the digital health technologies that are helping seniors stay active, healthy, safe, and connected, while supporting aging in place.
Mobile Health Fitness via Wearable Health Technology
Fitbit creates wearable devices that make people more aware of their daily activities and biometrics (body measurements) so they can be encouraged to lead more active lives and motivated to reach their health and fitness goals.
Their product line has expanded to include many different items, but in general their functional and fashionable devices monitor steps taken, calories burned, stairs climbed, distance traveled, and sleep quality.
Healthcare Information and Medication Tracking At Your Fingertips
- Gather, organize, store, and share individual and family medical histories
- Maintain medication lists and set medication reminders
- Record and track important medical information, such as blood pressure, glucose, weight, and more
- Make medical appointments more productive by preparing ahead for office visits and sharing health summaries with doctors
- Provide peace of mind for family members and caregivers who can’t always be with their loved one, but want to stay informed about their medical care
Wearable Medical Alert Devices
Using GreatCall Lively Mobile, a mobile medical alert device, in conjunction with GreatCall’s 5Star Urgent Response Service allows seniors to get help when and where they need it. The device is small, lightweight, and has patented GPS technology built in that allows the wearer to be located quickly.
Matching accessories allow the device to be clipped to a purse, keychain, or backpack, worn around the neck with a magnetic lanyard, attached to a belt with a protective carry case, or on the wrist with a watch-like wristband.
With the push of a button, the wearer is immediately connected with 5Star agents who can alert emergency responders when necessary. There is even the option to add fall detection service, which will prompt an automatic call to services when a fall is detected.
Medical Alerts for Home and On the Go
MobileHelp offers medical alert devices for home and on the go. Options include an at-home base station that works as a traditional medical alert system, a small portable unit that goes anywhere inside or outside the home, and the ability to add automatic fall detection.
MobileHelp features a GPS emergency response system, so even if the person who pushed the button is unable to communicate, the emergency operator knows the exact location of the wearer and can send help.
A Touchscreen Computer for Easy Family Communication
Telikin is an easy to use touchscreen computer that combines video chat, photo sharing, email, and other popular programs to give users the features they most want to use to keep in touch with family, without the hassle of setting up a traditional PC.
It arrives with software already installed and is ready to go right out of the box. All that is necessary is connection to high speed Internet service. There is an even a large screen option with a 22-inch LCD touchscreen that can be purchased with a keyboard that has extra large print.
A Television That Keeps Seniors and Caregivers Connected
Assisting in remote caregiving, Independa is a software company that provides products and services to keep older adults and their caregivers connected. Through the Independa SmartTV, the corresponding Independa app, and a simplified remote control, families are easily connected for video chat, messaging, and photo sharing.
But Independa is more than simply an all-in-one social networking center. With it, caregivers can set automatic reminders that encourage individuals to take their medications on time, and follow through on activities such as tracking their blood pressure, weight, and more.
Activity Sensors That Help Alleviate Caregiver Concerns
At the heart of the GrandCare System is a large touchscreen that makes it easy to instantly access video chat, photos, letters, and calendar events shared among family members and caregivers. Paired with wireless activity sensors placed throughout the home, caregivers can monitor daily activities without compromising the independence or privacy of the individual.
Designated caregivers can log in to the GrandCare website to send messages and pictures, play games, view activity, and create customized automatic caregiver alerts. For example, caregivers choose to receive alerts if specified events occur: medication noncompliance, unusual physical or behavioral activity, etc.
Tools That Can Benefit Seniors With Sight and Hearing Issues
While they may not represent the newest or most exciting technology on the market, there are still plenty of old-school tools that make life more enjoyable for those with hearing and sight problems. Here are just a few:
- Audible - Audio books allow people with vision impairment the ability to continue to enjoy their favorite authors and genres. In fact, audio books have become very popular across all demographics and even preferred by many people over reading a paper book.
- Voice Reading Apps - There are plenty of apps available that allow those with vision problems to hear written words by reading aloud text messages, web copy, document files, and more.
- TV Ears - While it may be one of those late-night commercials you chuckle over, TV Ears can actually be a huge help in a household where one person is losing their hearing. Often, for those with hearing loss, getting the television volume to a level they can hear can be bothersome to others or keep their spouses or caregivers from getting a good night’s rest. With TV Ears, individuals with hearing loss can adjust the headset volume to a level they prefer, while the others in the room enjoy the television at a comfortable volume. The unit works with most televisions and covers up to 600 square feet. The sealed ear tips reduce room noise while providing clarity so the dialog is clear and understandable. There are options that work with analog and digital TV, so be sure to get the one that’s right for you.
- ReSound - This hearing aid company builds smart hearing aids and accessories for those with mild to severe hearing loss. One model, the ReSound LiNX 3D, promises 360 degrees of sound with sound processing that more closely matches the natural ear. This hearing aid allows the wearer to control it using the ReSound Smart 3D app on their smartphone. Individuals can even track a misplaced hearing aid through the app.
Staying Healthy and Connected with Digital Health Technology
Thankfully, the health and wellness challenges facing seniors and their caregivers are getting easier to overcome with digital health technology and mHealth tools. For many, incorporating digital health tools into their lives is keeping seniors and their families and caregivers connected and informed.
For more information about how app-enabled care can help you manage and follow a healthcare plan, click here to learn more.