Empowering our aging population

How technology can empower our older population with the freedom to decide how they want spend their senior years.

Entering your senior years is a time of transition, often mentally and physically. I’m sure we all know people who have approached this point in life with confidence or a plan, but there many others who approach it with trepidation or denial. Naturally, as we age our day-to-day living may need to adapt, and it may become more of a challenge coping with big life events, whether that be the passing of a loved one, moving house or a health condition.

 

As a result, one or a combination of these situations can leave older people particularly vulnerable to the feeling of loneliness. The term ‘loneliness’ is well used in today’s society, but it can often be misunderstood. As a family member, a friend, or a healthcare professional, we need to first appreciate that loneliness can be partly addressed if we are able to empower people to live comfortably and as independently as possible, in spite of any health concerns. It works two ways, really - loneliness is both a catalyst for certain conditions, as well as a result.  

 

The increasing frailty and onset of chronic illness that may come with age can lead to low confidence, a decline in self-care and lack of social interaction. Similarly, older adults who are lonely have an increased risk of dying sooner and are more likely to experience a decline in their mobility, compared to those who are not lonely[1,2].

In order to tackle this, we need holistic solutions; technology can help, but is more of an enabler than a panacea.   For example, technology that allows seniors to ask for professional assistance with a rapid response, but also devices that can be trusted to support independent living. The Philips Lifeline medical alert service provides access to a professional response associate as and when seniors need it. AutoAlert fall technology provides fall detection which can automatically call for assistance, if it detects a fall*.  Our GoSafe cellular technology with GPS  gives seniors the confidence to step outside their home with reassurance that should anything happen while enjoying a stroll in the park, or shopping, they have access to help should they need it**.

 

The routine of taking prescribed medicines on time every day can also be a challenge and may feel overwhelming, especially if its several medicines two or three times a day. Adherence is lowest among patients with chronic illnesses[iii], and our Medication Adherence Solutions are arming healthcare providers and insurers with the data from connected medication dispensers to better manage high acuity patients. They are designed to instill peace of mind in the patient, their family and healthcare professionals, while allowing for patient independence.

 

As technology progresses, healthcare innovations must aim to provide the balance of patient independence, encourage connectivity with their community, and access to 24-hour professional response associate from home when required. Ultimately, we want to empower our older population with the freedom to decide how they want spend their senior years.

 

[*] AutoAlert does not detect 100% of falls.  If able, a user should always push their button when they need help.

[**] GoSafe coverage outside the home is provided where AT&T wireless network coverage is available.  Recharging of the GoSafe button is done by the user as needed, when connected to the charger.

[1] Perissinotto CM, Stijacic C, I, Covinsky KE. “Loneliness in older persons: a predictor of functional decline and death.” Arch Intern Med. July 2012; 172(14):1078-83

[2] Luo Y, Hawkley LC, Waite LJ, Cacioppo JT. “Loneliness, health, and mortality in ol1d age: a national longitudinal study.” Soc Sci Med. March 2012; 74(6):907-14.

[3] Sokol MC, McGuigan KA, Verbrugge RR, Epstein RS. “Impact of Medication Adherence on Hospitalization Risk and Healthcare Cost.” Med Care. Jun 2005; 43(6):521-30.

The author

Ripley-martin

Rip Martin

Philips Lifeline

About

Innovation Matters delivers news, opinions and features about healthcare, and is focused on the professionals who work within the industry, as well as Philips as a cutting-edge health technology organization. From interviews with industry giants to how-to guides and features powered by Philips data, our goal is to deliver interesting, educational and entertaining content to empower and inspire all those who work in healthcare or related industries. 


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