How senior citizens can benefit from digital healthcare

By TNT Bureau

Sep 26, 2017: For many of the nation’s 45 million senior citizens, aging in place is alternatively a much sought-after way to live out the golden years or the default option for those with modest incomes. To make aging in place work, especially for baby boomers, advocates and the government may need to help nurture new technologies that address major problems for seniors.

Almost 90 percent of the worldwide seniors, including those older than 70, want to age in place at least for the next five to ten years of their lives, according to a survey by the American Association of Retired Persons.

Stairs, showers, bathrooms, basements and more can turn into inconveniences and hazards for seniors, threatening their independence and, worse, leading to injuries. There are the challenges of managing chronic conditions and associated medications, finding reliable transportation for people who don’t drive or have access to mass transit and, among the most pernicious factors, the isolation. Many seniors outlive their partners by years; others do not have family or friends nearby.

Ageing better with digital technology

But today, social media, the sharing economy and advancing digital technology could improve aging in new and better ways, from connecting caregivers and volunteers and helping seniors find companionship, to smart devices that remind seniors to turn off the stove or let adult children monitor their parent’s wellbeing.

Technologists are starting to see the possibilities, especially for the coming wave of retiring baby boomers. Gerontologist Katy Fike and business consultant Stephan Johnston saw an opportunity to rethink aging with technology in 2012 when they founded Aging 2.0, which has since become a generator program for early stage aging tech companies.

Among them are BrainAid, whose executive function apps automate and guide tasks for seniors with cognitive problems, and True Link, which lets seniors delegate small financial purchases for groceries and necessities to personal aids through debit cards, a system aimed at streamlining shopping help while guarding against fraud.

Essentials of Internet of Things (ioT)

Lively, a company in the Cambia Health Solutions family, the same holding company that owns Regence Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oregon, represents something of a convergence between social and remote monitoring technologies. Both seniors and caregivers often adult children can track the activity and share messages or photos.

Both Medicare and Medicaid are in search of more cost-effective, patient-centered options to servicing beneficiaries, with billions of dollars being invested in new home- and community-based care models for frail and elderly Medicare-Medicaid “dual eligibles who collectively cost some $300 billion while receiving what has long been considered fragmented care.

Between those investments and the movement to age in place, digital and mobile health companies that have heretofore been focusing on quantified selfers could find challenges just as interesting and business opportunities just as large in servicing seniors.

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