Wearable tech, like most technology, is finding more and more ways to make our lives easier. While some consider wearables as luxury items solely aimed to increase productivity and track fitness goals, some wearables are making strides in integrating with the healthcare industry — particularly in elderly care. These devices and accompanying programs are not only streamlining the work carried out by medical professionals, but are also putting the elderly and their loved ones at ease.

While conveniently placed emergency buttons and pacemakers are not entirely new, wearable tech have taken interconnected elderly care to a whole new level. We have already covered how smartwatches like Omate’s Wherecom S3 act as a GPS tracker to monitor a senior’s whereabouts in real-time. Using the analysed data collected from senior citizens, devices can now assess their progress and even predict future difficulties that they may face, making it more proactive rather than reactive. Digital Health Today reports that wearables can now identify symptoms that lead to a urinary tract infection (UTI), a common, but at times, aggravating condition for the elderly. This is done by tracking bathroom use patterns such as duration and frequency, potentially saving up to $130,000 in medical bills.

Other companies like ActiveProtective are deploying belts to prevent the elderly from falling. These belts are folded airbags with a gas inflation system that is activated when a fall is detected. While some remain skeptical about walking around with an airbag, ActiveProtective claims that a third of people over 65 fall every year, giving it a niche wide enough for commercial sustainability, and showing how wearables can do a lot more than just track data.

By integrating machine learning technology with their monitoring devices, CarePredict with its flagship device Tempo claims to predict UTI more than 3 days ahead of diagnosis and has reduced falls by a fourth in senior communities. Tempo does this by learning the daily activities of the wearer and providing real-time and web-based dashboards accessible to care professionals and loved ones. The device can then spot any deviations and send an alert when necessary.

As nearly 9 in 10 adults would prefer to age at home today, wearable tech solutions will surely grow not only in market valuation but also in necessity. As it is, the current healthcare system is failing our seniors. The American Geriatric Society’s projects that around 12 million elderly need at least 17,000 geriatricians to care for them in the next few years and that this target won’t be met. A similar trend can also be seen in the need for more nurses, especially those in gerontological care. A post by Maryville University that breaks down the healthcare industry for nursing graduates reveals that the U.S. is facing an estimated shortage of at least 100,000 family medicine doctors. With gerontological care professionals on the decline, it is no surprise that people are turning to wearables to help them with their health. As wearables become more widely used for elderly care, they can reduce the number of redundant hospital trips, greatly benefiting both the end-users, and maybe even taking off some of the strain on the healthcare system in the process.

 

Article written only for sportswearable.net
By Arianne Spears