Teaching parents to use social media may make you want to pull your hair out, but according to a new study out of Austria, it could help keep mom and dad mentally fit.
Researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis found that people over the age of 50 consistently scored better on cognitive tests than similarly aged people years earlier, thanks in part to seniors’ increasing use of cellphones and computers. It seems that modern technology is forcing aging brains to improve.
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With the increasing use of technology, life has become cognitively more demanding – the average person currently has 26 online accounts that require passwords. And while we still don’t have a cure for cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s or Dementia, research has shown that regardless of age, with proper exercise, the brain has the ability to restructure itself and become more active and efficient. In fact, studies have shown that people who don’t flex their mental muscles are up to 2.6 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Not only is technology keeping senior brains in top form, it’s also helping seniors stay independent longer. Technologies such as sensors, GPS and senior-focused social networks can help seniors continue to live at home. Which is good news as 12 percent of the world’s current population is 65 and older and is expected to double by 2050. While today’s greatest generation is well beyond the simple Life Alert bracelet, they may still be uncomfortable with some gadgets. This means devices must be easy to use with privacy and security top priorities.
Mobile health (mHealth) is a rapidly growing area of health technology with significant potential to improve care processes such as medication compliance, safety monitoring, health information, access to care and communication with providers. Smartphones and other mobile computing devices are everywhere, enhancing the potential to assess and improve health. There’s no shortage of companies working on innovative products designed to change the face of healthcare as we know it. Below is a short list of examples.
Lively is a wearable tech that doesn’t scream “medical device”. Looking similar to other smartwatches, the easy-to-use safety watch gives 24/7 emergency response is just a single button. It also notifies family members when loved ones may need help.
BeClose can also help you look after your senior loved ones. Strategically placed sensors around the house track normal routines of your loved ones. For privacy reasons, no cameras are involved. BeClose detects changes in routines and notifies you by text, email or phone call when something is out of the ordinary.
Backed by CEO’s from Google, NextDoor and Path, Honor is working to completely modernize in-home care for seniors. Schedule, manage, and monitor care visits on your phone from anywhere. Stay in communication with your Honor Care Pro and get real-time information. Honor matches qualified caregivers with seniors and supplies homes with custom-built, easy-to-use touchscreen appliances used to update caregivers and record services received. Authorized relatives will have access to the information, so they’ll be able to monitor the situation.
UnaliWear is wearable technology that provides simple directions on how to get home and reminds wearers to take medication. With no buttons to use – completely voice activated – the wristband also provides on-call emergency assistance.
When your heart beats, more blood is pumped into your face. This slight increase in blood volume causes more light to be absorbed, and hence less light is reflected from your face. Cardiio uses your smartphone’s camera to capture these tiny changes in reflected light and calculate your heart beat. Measurement accuracy is within 3 beats/min of a clinical pulse oximeter when performed at rest in a well-lit environment.
Clevermind is a voice activated iPad app that helps stimulate cognitive abilities of seniors and people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. The app is designed to not only stimulate your brain with memory exercises, but to strategically add resting periods with individual entertainment options and social connections.
iCouch offers online counseling by licensed mental health professionals. On a mission to bring quality online counseling to everyone, regardless of location, the company uses cutting edge technology to improve the entire mental health field.
Tested by more than 1,000 elderly, Speakset is boasted as the simplest possible device for someone who has never used technology before. Using “plug and play” technology, Speakset is referred to as “Skype for Seniors” that connects to any TV with an interface specifically designed with the seniors in mind.
Only 50 percent of patients correctly following their regimen and non-adherence causes a death every 4 minutes in the U.S. Medisafe is on a mission to give people the tools, support and information they need to take their medications the way they’re supposed to. The app not only reminds you when to take you meds, but also educates you about your meds and condition, offers helpful tips, and curating prescription coupons and special offers tailored to you.
Pillpack simplifies the process of managing medications through a combination of convenient packaging, modern technology, and personalized service. Automatically arriving every two weeks, medications come in individual packs organized by date and time. Pillpack pharmacists manage refills for you, so you’ll never run out. Even those who don’t use Pillpack for meds can download their reminder app which automatically keeps a log of medications taken (and forgotten).