According to the Longevity Report released in September 2016 by AARP, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will allow more seniors to live independently in the comfort of their own homes. Aging in place is preferred by many seniors who want to remain in a home they are familiar with, as well as minimize the hassle of moving. Most seniors would rather not have to adapt to life at a nursing home, even without having to foot the costly bill. This could be avoided through these new IoT technologies which give the seniors a chance to age in their own place safely.
A network of inter-connected electronic devices with the capability to transmit real-time data – this is how IoT is referred to. It is known for its potentials that are meant to optimize a lot of things in the form of cost savings, market opportunity offerings and social benefits. There is great expectation that in the US healthcare system, a considerable cost savings will be contributed by these technologies.
According to AARP’s Longevity Report, Goldman Sachs has estimated that savings for the healthcare system will reach $300 billion over time, just for chronic illnesses alone. Most of these cost savings will come from healthcare monitoring accomplished remotely, where the physicians monitor their patients from their home, whether it is for their recovery after a surgery or from chronic illnesses.
Hexoskin is one of the new technologies developed for this purpose. Through a phone app and Bluetooth, this shirt with fabric-integrated sensors allows biometric monitoring remotely. Currently, physicians track the physiological performance of their patients after the data gathered by the sensors are uploaded to a database. There were indications in the earlier experiments of this technology that remote monitoring can be facilitated. From ambient assisted living (AAL), the uses of this technology can range up to sleep health.
For patients, the intrusiveness it brings is minimal, while the expenses for healthcare both for the individuals and the public are noticeably reduced. Significant improvements are seen from ambient assisted and independent living through the help of internet-connected and voice-activated technologies.
A good example of this is Amazon’s Echo. It is a computer that responds to its surroundings through internet connectivity and voice sensing. With the outside world, communication and day-to-day activities at home are connected.
Caregivers can use the use the Echo to assist their patients with their routines every day. The device can provide medication reminders, order online from Amazon, play music, read, get the news, weather, sports scores and more. Researching and answering questions is another useful quality of the system. The caregiver or family member of the senior can use an Echo smartphone app remotely to monitor how the senior is interacting with their Echo.
The system never rests, and a number of customers have found it to be perfect tool to assist with Alzheimers and dementia patients. One lady whose husband has dementia observed how the Echo patiently responded to her husband’s repeated cycle of questions and requests. She gave it a 5-star rating.
Besides the Echo, other similar computer systems are now under development. With all the potential they hold, the promise of them being adopted in the future scales higher as time passes by.
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