Powering Our Future: 6 Technologies Changing the Way We Age

Link to article in Owatanna People’s Press

By CEO Deb Taylor

With technological innovations changing the way we function on a day-to-day basis and connect with one another, the needs of our older adults are also changing.  Now more than ever, older adults are opting to “age in place”, a term used to describe a person living in their own home, independently and safely without losing their quality of life. New technologies are emerging to make this possible for the growing population of older adults in our society. Companies are developing products specifically designed to integrate these newer technologies into the homes of aging adults to keep them independent, safe and, perhaps most important, connected.

  • WellnessVR, created by Visual Inc., is a unique, cutting edge virtual reality system with content tailored especially to reduce anxiety and stress as well as bring a sense of peace to those who experience it. The content includes many scenes of places around the world like Hyde Park in London and Stonehenge. It also includes footage from around Minnesota like the state aquarium, Minnehaha Falls and Lake Superior. Minneapolis senior living facility, Ebenezer found a meaningful and powerful way to bring this technology to older adults who would have otherwise been unlikely to ever try it.
  • grandPad is a tablet device specifically tailored to the needs of older adults, who may not typically be a part of the photo sharing, emailing, and video calling that connect us. The grandPad arrives to older adults preloaded with their family photos and contacts. It includes internet connection everywhere, no contracts, wireless charging, and audio and visual access for adults who live with changes in hearing and vision. It aims to eliminating the many points of frustration that lead to an older adult never making it past the set-up phase of other devices.
  • CareNextion, The ability to live independently has much to do with an older adult’s community and their individual caregiving support network. Powered by Senior Community Services, CareNextion is a free, online resource where caregivers and family members can remotely work together to organize an online Care Team with family members to schedule care, find service providers, get valuable community-specific guidance, or connect with a professional social worker to answer questions and solve problems.
  • WalkSmart is the world’s first smart walker attachment: no charging and no smartphone required. It reduces falls by providing positive and negative incentives for using the walker and alerting caregivers when something odd happens, like extended periods of inactivity.
  • Dose Health aims to streamline medication adherence by providing is a small, portable pillbox, Dose Dispense, that automatically opens to the correct compartment and sounds a friendly alarm at the scheduled medication time. Then the user simply flips the machine to dispense their medications. The Dose Dispense allows caregivers and healthcare providers to stay up to date on medication adherence with text, email or phone notifications. This offers a hands-off approach with peace of mind that if a medication is missed the caregiver will be notified.
  • Luna Lights consists of a thin pressure sensor that detects when a user gets out of bed and immediately turns on wireless lights in the home, while also collecting data on nighttime activity. By combining tracking and illumination, Luna Lights provides a predictive and preventative experience to warn family members and caretakers of potential health problems or falls.

We’re all aging in the same direction. There isn’t any reason this idea has to be synonymous with a loss of accessibility to or information about cutting-edge, dynamic technologies to enhance our quality of life. That is why, this October, members of the community are coming together for the latest information about how older adults can live a high-quality life, independently through the use of accessible, adaptive technology at the 3rd Annual Reimaging Aging Conference held in Golden Valley, MN.

All the technologies described above and more will be on display for hands-on demonstrations in a technology showcase. The conference will also feature a keynote address from Dr. Kerry Burnight, the Chief Gerontologist at grandPad. Dr. Burnight has dedicated her entire professional career to bettering the lives of older adults and has been featured for it on multiple national programs such as CBS news, The Doctors, the Dr. Phil Show, and Money Matters.

The Reimaging Conference will be held at the Brookview Community Center in Golden Valley on October 17th. For more information and registration, visit seniorcommunity.org

Deb Taylor is the CEO of Senior Community Services and its Reimagine Aging Institute, a nonprofit that helps older adults and caregivers navigate aging to maintain independence and quality of life. We provide a wide array of programs — www.seniorcommunity.org