How future wearable technology will help the elderly

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Mark Kirkpatrick
Mark Kirkpatrick

As technology continues to advance, along with our aging population, we'll be seeing more exciting innovations in medical advancements. Everything from 3D printers that can recreate human tissue and and organs to handheld scanners that once took up entire rooms in some settings. While some of these are already in place and others are continuing to evolve, here's what to look forward to in tomorrow's marketplace and how it will help you as a provider:

More Monitoring In Wearables

Similar to the FitBit, expect to see more wearable technology, especially when it comes to monitoring seniors' many medical conditions. With a wearable wristband, this newer technology will not only monitor a patient's vital signs, they will also be sent to a location where they'll be readily available and monitored by nurses and doctors in real time.

Apple, Google & Samsung Take on Diabetes

According to a recent report, all three of these wearable giants are researching ways to monitor blood sugar and glucose levels in their devices which can be worn by patients. Details are a little sketchy, while some are making progress, others are still unable to break the barrier of intrusion, the actual pricking of the skin to draw blood for results.

It's likely only a matter of time before we see these results available on wearables. And for those that don't already have the disease, early detection can help the progression of this disorder. For other conditions like heart disease or arrhythmia, perhaps it will be possible to detect or prevent heart attacks and strokes in the future.  

Finders Keepers

With GPS technology already available on some of these devices, wandering Alzheimer's patients, those suffering from dementia and other mental health conditions, can be quickly located. Think of the time and resources this will save not to mention the stress on staff and family members when someone can be found in minutes instead of hours or days.

Additional Sensors

More sensors included in these and other devices can detect whether or not someone has fallen. Attached to “smart” refrigerators and other appliances wirelessly, they can tell whether someone is eating a nutritious diet and staying properly hydrated, while sensors in light switches will also communicate where a patient may be located at any given time.

Hands Free Contact

Remember the days of Life Alert ® and their popular slogan, “I've fallen, and I can't get up?” While this company is still in business and other providers have similar services, look for technology to have more efficient methods of contact on their wearables. Imagine being able to activate the device with a voice command, the GPS system knows the nearest hospital to contact in case of emergency and vitals can be sent either to another outside institution or directly to a primary caregiver or physician.

Who knows what many wonders technology will bring us? To quote the 80s one-hit wonder by Timbuk 3, the future is looking so bright, we might have to wear shades. But wrist wearables are looking much more conducive to a long-term ride on the technology wagon, especially since Google recently suspended sales of their Glass product, most likely due to high prices and low sales. The good news, this will likely free up more time for research and development of other medical wearables and their associative, growing technology.

Mark Kirkpatrick is a freelance journalist.

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