As we get older, our needs change and so do the gadgets that surround us. When we reach old age, health problems appear, forgetfulness tends to be more frequent and, sometimes, personal security also becomes more fragile. In the face of all this, and despite the fact that many grandparents are enemies of technology, the world of ‘gadgets’ and ‘apps’ offers solutions to make their lives much easier.
From ‘wearables’ that warn if the wearer has some mishap to smart pill dispensers that remember the time of the shot or mobile applications that allow you to hire a caregiver quickly and easily to come home as soon as possible. Even robots have been created to keep them company and help the elderly in their daily lives.
Wristbands to be connected
One of the latest novelties available in the market is the V-SOS Band. It is an intelligent bracelet created by Vodafone from which the user can request help simply by pressing a button for three seconds. The device will be connected to up to four contacts and, once the warning is issued, it will change colour to communicate to the user that help is already on its way.
In addition, this waterproof ‘wearable’ will alert to any fall thanks to its sensors and will provide the exact GPS location of where your user is to relatives. The bracelet will also emit a warning to the relatives’ mobile phones if it detects that in an hour there has been no movement or activity, as well as if it needs to be charged.
Its average autonomy is one month and has a wireless charging system that facilitates that in two hours the bracelet is ready for use again. Its price is 79.90 euros in Vodafone stores and it is necessary to pay a fee of 5 euros per month to use the service. In addition, two applications will have to be downloaded, V by Vodafone to activate and manage the monthly subscription and V-SOS Band to receive and manage information relating to the major.
Another alternative for seniors is the intelligent watch with the Europe Nock Senior seal. In addition to the basic functions of a watch, it allows family members to know the location of the oldest at all times and establish security zones to be notified if they enter them. The user will also be able to send a notification and their current position in the event of any unforeseen event and receive and send calls through the clock at the touch of a button.
For all this, in addition to purchasing the watch for 95 euros, you will have to contract its service with various plans: 12 euros per month, 30 euros per quarter or 99 euros per year. The cost of a watch without any service is 195 euros.
Something simpler (but also useful) is the Silincode SOS option. This silicone bracelet available in different colors and sizes incorporates a QR code that allows access to personal and medical data of the person wearing it. This way, in case of emergency, they will be able to identify the user and contact a family member.
In addition, the data can be easily modified from an ‘app’ or a computer with internet access.
Safe inside and outside the home
Another technological proposal with ‘wearable’ incorporated is Senior Protection. Developed by CaixaBank and Securitas Direct, it is a security system consisting of a central unit for the home and an intelligent clock for the elderly.
On the one hand, the home device allows emergency alerts to be sent, either by pressing the SOS button for two seconds or by repeating ‘I need assistance’ twice. In addition, it incorporates a voice chat that allows you to talk to other users and provides data such as temperature, relative humidity or air quality.
The watch also has a one-button alerting service, while indicating the user’s activity, such as distance or steps travelled. It also incorporates fall detection technology that, in the event of any mishap, sends an automatic alert with the user’s GPS location whether he or she is inside or outside the home.
Another tele-assistance system is Sensovida. It consists of a bracelet and a network of sensors in the form of plugs that can be placed throughout the house and can detect abnormal behavior, from established routines, to issue warnings. For example, if someone goes to the bathroom at night and does not go out in an hour, or if they usually wake up between 9:00am and 10:00am and one day at 12:00pm has not yet done so.
To avoid scares, a light in the bathroom that is activated by movements will not hurt either. This is achieved by the Rain Bowl motion sensor that placed in the toilet illuminates with colorful lights nocturnal visits to the bathroom.
It’s available at Amazon.
For health monitoring: heart monitors and smart pill dispensers
Gadgets not only focus on helping us in critical moments, but some also serve to monitor the state of our health over time. This is the case of the Qardio Core device, which tracks our heart rate on a daily basis. It is a tape that is placed around the chest and connected to the smartphone via Bluetooth to give us all the data about our heart. In addition, this device measures stress levels, respiratory rate and allows us to keep track of our activity.
Although it is also used by athletes, it is especially recommended for people with a history of heart attacks or strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or excess weight. For the moment, its ‘app’ is only available for iPhone.
More than just walking around the house, technology also gives us a hand with forgetfulness. For example, intelligent pill dispensers that, in addition to allowing the pills to be distributed according to the days of the week, warn when the time to take them is approaching. This is the case of Pill Drill, which, awarded at CES 2017, offers reminders to the patient, makes it possible to keep track of consumption and sends notifications to family members. Its price is $279.00.
Apps for grandparents
For older people who can’t manage with smartphones, there are also alternatives to make them much friendlier devices. For example, Wiser, downloadable from Google’s Play Store, allows you to customize the operating system of your mobile and make its icons, letters and buttons much larger and easier to use.
Similar are also Help Launcher, for people with vision problems, or Ultimate Volume Booster, which allows you to increase the volume of calls much more than the phone allows with its default options. There are even tools to remove the mess of passwords and be able to manage them all from an ‘app’ such as Dashlane.
Mobile phones and tablets can also be used to exercise the mind while having fun. For example, CogniFit, with versions for iOS and Android and also for the computer, has a wide variety of games to train more than 20 cognitive skills such as memory or auditory perception. Other recommended exercises are Fit Brains Trainer, NeuroNation or Lumosity (also available for computers).
It will also be useful to keep track of the pills on the mobile thanks to the tool Medisafe. In addition, there are mobile applications that allow a quick and easy way to hire a home caregiver. This is the case of Joyners, which through its ‘app’ makes it easier to tell the person hired the tasks to be done and in less than an hour is at home. Family members will also be able to communicate with the carers from anywhere and in real time during the service.
In terms of care, even a further step has been taken and robots have been designed to help the elderly in their daily tasks. This is the case of the Spaniards Asibot and Maggie, developed in the laboratories of the Carlos III University, who facilitate tasks such as entering the shower or eating, while they can socialize with them as they dance, sing and play ball. Another example is TIAgo, from PAL Robotics, which has already been successfully tested in homes to help older people.
Meanwhile, others focus more on companionship tasks such as the baby seal shape robot Nuka. Also called Paro in other countries, it allows seniors to interact with it as if it were a pet and thus reduce their levels of anxiety and sadness. In addition, there are several projects under development such as GrowMeUp, within the European Horizon 2020 program, which increasingly incorporate human tasks.
Although most of these robots are not yet for sale, the over-65s already have a number of gadgets and apps at their disposal to make their lives and the lives of those around them much easier thanks to technology.