The American population is aging. According to the Administration on Aging, by 2030 there will be about 72 million people 65 years or older, more than twice the number than in 2000.
Interestingly, this segment of the population embraces mobile technology. A May 2012 report by Georgetown University, titled “The Wireless Revolution: Are the Elderly Keeping Up?,” shows that 80 percent of senior citizen households surveyed have wireless service. But seniors have unique needs, and wireless innovation in this area can have a big impact on elder care and independence.
Wireless sensors placed throughout a home can help an older person retain his or her independence, while easing the concerns of families and caregivers. The PERs+ solution from Healthsense uses sensors to detect whether doors are opened or closed or a toilet is flushed to provide information about the resident’s activity. If anything out of the ordinary is noticed, a family member or caregiver can connect directly with the senior through a pendant worn around the neck. Another innovative technology that takes advantage of fast wireless networks is the Healthcare Access Tablet. Developed by BL Healthcare, the tablet brings a healthcare professional directly into an senior citizen’s home via video conferencing over 4G LTE. By connecting accessories to the device, the tablet can monitor and report vital signs, including blood pressure and oxygen levels, and reduce the number of visits to the doctor’s office. There’s room for more innovation in wireless technology for seniors. The HelloAgain Challenge, sponsored by Blindsight, is a contest open to U.S. residents 18 years or older to come up with a mobile solution that solves a problem for the seniors and those who care for them.
As seniors continue to adopt wireless technology to improve their quality of life, technology innovators continue to develop new products that accommodate their needs.