Guest Post: How Wearables for the Elderly are Improving Lives

How Wearables for the Elderly are Improving Lives

In the late 80’s there was a popular commercial that featured an elderly lady falling and crying out for help. Fortunately she was wearing one of the earliest incarnations of a wearable medical device for the elderly and it wasn’t long before help was on its way. This seemed like ground breaking technology at the time, but our wearable devices are a lot more sophisticated these days and they can be great tools in helping seniors live longer and lead more productive lives. For the most part these devices are a great idea, but there are some privacy concerns that they do generate.

Self-Monitoring and Reminders

Source- fitbit.com Joseph Mack

Figure 1- Source: Fitbit.com

Personally I don’t go anywhere these days without my Fitbit. It helps to keep me motivated by showing me how many steps I’ve taken each day and it allows me to see my average heartbeat and track my sleep patterns. Fitness monitors like this are great tools and they can be especially helpful for the elderly. Products such as the Withings Pulse Ox will even help them to track their blood oxygen levels and they can easily tell if something is out of the ordinary. The idea here is to monitor your vitals before they become a problem. Some even take it a step further by acting as a notification device to remind seniors to keep appointments or take their medication such as the Lively Safety Watch.

Seamless Communication with Caregivers

Wearable devices for seniors aren’t just handy devices for self-monitoring. Some of the more advanced devices such as the Lively Safety Watch we’ve already mentioned or the BodyGuardian Sensor collect a variety of data which can then be shared over the cloud with caregivers. This allows them to keep track of vitals for their patients remotely and they can set it up to receive alerts if anything seems like it needs immediate attention.

Family Peace of Mind and Independence

Knowing that your elderly loved one is wearing a device that can constantly monitor their vitals for signs of problems can be a big stress reliever. Sometimes it’s hard not to worry about a sick loved one even during a busy day at work. With wearable devices such as these you can easily take a look at how they’re doing any time you like. If you notice anything you don’t like you can get in touch with them or contact emergency personnel for help. You’ll have a lot more peace of mind and they can maintain their independence making everybody’s lives less stressful.

Privacy Concerns

It isn’t all positive with wearable devices for the elderly though. Any device that can connect to the internet and share information about you poses obvious privacy concerns. It’s a good idea to check the end user licence agreement for any device you or a loved one uses to see what kind of legal protection you have from the sharing of your information. Even if you are protected that doesn’t mean your information can’t be accessed by a determined hacker. Another privacy issue associated with wearables currently in the news is the use of this technology to deny their users certain health benefits. The positives of wearables do tend to outweigh the costs, but it’s important to keep all of these issues in mind nonetheless.

This is a guest post by Joseph Mack from smarthomeSAGE, a blog that analyzes the impact that smart home technology (such as doorbell video cameras) has on home life.

 

 

 

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