Technology to Assist Family Caregivers and Seniors
Here is the situation. Chronic illness (long-lasting) has replaced acute illness (short duration) as the major health problem of aging adults in America. Older adults want to live independently in their homes for as long as they safely can. There is a caregiver shortage and assisted living is very expensive.
How can technology play a part in assisting seniors remain safely at home? Ideas welcome! It’s great that Amazon and Google are producing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology today and improving it every day. Here‘s a concern… You don’t see too many 45 year olds walking out the AI department heading home at night. It’s mostly young people that these companies employ. The concern is that the younger generation is great with technology but hasn’t had a chance to care for a pet, let alone an aging loved one. It’s up to the sandwich generation typically (40’s or 50’s) to discuss the situation and work with all generations to solve it. You don’t see a lot of technology gearing up for the aging crisis we are starting to see. Here is a thought. Amazon bought out Whole Foods. Yes, you can order food through Alexa. The food has to be scanned in order to be delivered, right? Couldn’t we capture the lot numbers, expiration dates, country/state of origin, etc. and store it on an app for recalls or notification that your items are about to expire? Family caregivers that don’t live close by could use it to monitor the level and quality of food at their parents’ home. An expiration notification could mean a couple of things. One, the food is going bad or two, needs to be replenished.
Today we can see who is at our door, change the temperature in the house or even notify us if a smoke detector goes off all from our phone. This is commonly known as the “Internet of Things” (When we connect devices through a network that normally are disconnected, enabling them to send and receive data). There’s room for improvement. For example, while you can make a call with Google, you really can’t with Amazon, unless you have another Amazon device to connect to. So if a crippling ALS patient in an assisted living facility needed assistance, they would have to use a Google device, over Alexa, to call the front desk and ask someone to come up since they don’t have the ability to push a button or pull a cord.
Best Buy, a leading supplier of technology products and services, is strengthening its position while providing growth opportunities in the aging health industry. They see the need to focus on the growing needs of the aging population. Last year Best Buy acquired GreatCall Inc. GreatCall is a leader in the connected health and personal emergency response services. Best Buy provides other technology to assist seniors with safely living independently at home. Something else to consider is their Assured Living Service. Their 2020 business strategy is to enrich lives through technology by addressing the key human needs.
The Institute on Aging reported back in 2010 that of the older adults who were living outside nursing homes or hospitals, nearly one third (11.3 million) lived alone. That’s a large number of people and it’s growing every day. Entrepreneurs today need to validate their ideas and see what their target audience looks like. Older women outnumber older men. Two-thirds of Americans age 85+are women. So what kind of technology can we use to help aging women remain in the home and live independently?
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