Healthcare technology is mostly aimed at the young and healthy who want to stay that way. With new devices from Apple and FitBit, the healthy-conscious can monitor their workouts and follow their progress.
But what about the elderly? Not so much. But that may be about to change.
Joseph F. Coughlin and Luke Yoquinto, writing in The Wall Street Journal, say “elder technology” is about to make major strides toward meeting the needs of our older population. Good thing, since the Baby Boomers are now in their sixties and seventies.
It seems that elder technology in the past has focused on function, not on form or appearance. The first wearable heart-rate detector hit the market in 1947 but weighed 85 pounds! Not exactly suitable for strapping on for a leisurely stroll. Today, elder technology is being designed not merely to be endured, but to be embraced.
More recent technology has been the Life Alert necklace and devices to detect when seniors have fallen. But these have often been referred to as “BBB – big, beige, and boring.” As a result few seniors were interested. Studies suggest only 4% of Americans who could benefit from a personal emergency-response system even own one, much less wears one.
Improvements to this situation began in 2014 with the advent of the online pharmacy PillPack, which provides personalized packets of medications to simplify compliance. Amazon recently purchased PillPack for $1 Billion. Shortly thereafter, Best Buy purchased GreatCall, the maker of elder-oriented Jitterbug phones, for $800 million.
There is little doubt that Apple will soon be coming out with a watch that focuses on elder technology including heart-rate monitoring, EKGs and fall detection. You can be sure it will be elegant, slim, and easy to use in an effort to overcome prior resistance by seniors in the past to such technology. Aesthetics and engineering will be combined to produce a product as attractive to the elderly as current designs are to the young and healthy.
As a Baby Boomer myself, I’m excited to see what new devices will soon be available to keep me healthy and living longer. It might be to monitor my blood pressure and notify me when I exceed a pre-set limit. It might be a reminder to take my medication that must be repeated in the middle of the day. Monitoring my blood sugar –without drawing my blood – would be another helpful feature.
What would you like to see in a device to make your life easier and healthier?