As the age-tech industry expands, the number of applications pointed toward seniors is seeing exponential growth.
Health care facilities and home health agencies are leading the charge to streamline medical record-keeping using electronic health or medical record systems (EHRs and EMRs), many of which involve seniors themselves in the monitoring and recording of their own treatments.
Research also shows physical activity and social connection are two of the largest contributing factors to healthy aging. Technology now has the power to develop systems for health, activity, and social connection to serve your community’s residents, no matter what their level of need.
This short film by the Center for Aging Services Technologies and published by LeadingAge shows just how EHRs and EMRs can streamline the caregiving process and, in some cases, help save lives. Rehabilitation technology, social networking apps, wearables, and in-home sensors also play large roles in keeping older Americans healthy and independent into their later years.
The International Council on Active Aging has published research that argues for wellness programs in senior living communities. They find that community wellness activities and formal wellness programs increase overall functional ability, cognitive and mental health, and ultimately, independence and quality of life for residents.
AgingCare.com has this bank of caregiver resources for encouraging seniors to make active living choices. One article, republished by Brookdale Senior Living, extols the benefits of exercise at any age for immune and cardiovascular performance, chronic conditions, osteoporosis, and even gastrointestinal functions.
A 2013 study in the Online Journal of Nursing Informatics suggests that “technology may be an important intervention for increasing connectedness in older adults.” Even more recently, the Center for Technology and Aging shows how we are standing at a threshold, watching a world in which “emerging technologies will enable both older adults and their caregivers to address a comprehensive range of medical, health, social, and functional needs.”
In addition, the study says, “technology-based solutions that connect older adults to friends, family, and the community are becoming more viable; older adults and their caregivers are growing increasingly tech-savvy; technology usability is improving; and price points are descending.”
In other words, technology is making it easier and more cost-effective for older adults and their caregivers to foster habits of activity, connectedness, and health.
One new solution from researchers at Notre Dame is the eSeniorCare app, which is currently being tested at two senior living communities in South Bend, Indiana. The app combines physical and mental health monitoring with a social network of other users.
Seniors can use eSeniorCare to send voice or text messages to caregivers and track a variety of health goals. Caregivers can respond or intervene as necessary, but the app’s overall purpose to foster independence and productivity by providing a framework for medication, nutrition, and pain management.
eSeniorCare also allows seniors to play brain games designed to improve cognitive health and prevent impairment of mental function. They share scores with other users, which initial studies have shown increases their technological comfort and literacy, as well as their interpersonal interaction.
Sunrise Senior Living has published a list of the 20 best apps for seniors, which prove useful in a variety of independent and care settings. Most are free and run on a tablet or mobile device. From entertainment and education to medication tracking apps, a growing variety of software is available to help seniors stay independent and alert to their own changing needs.
Whether you serve seniors living independently or provide higher levels of care, technology can help consolidate, streamline, and connect your residents physically, cognitively, and socially to resources that will help them to stay healthy and productive as they age.