The 2014 holidays have passed. However, even if not in time to resolve the perennial question of what to get Grandma for Christmas, this Technology Gear Guide from AARP is a useful resource for devices designed to ease daily tasks for older adults. And, since the elderly population in growing – it is estimated that by 2050, those over 65 will make up 20% of the population in the United States (see Lowsky, Olshansky, Bhattacharya & Goldman, 2014) – it is more likely than not that readers will have at least one or two older adults in their families (if they’re not actually approaching old age themselves, as this poster is).
What are some of the gadgets reviewed in the AARP guide? One is Vitality’s GlowCap for prescription bottles ($79.99), which sets off a reminder alarm when it’s time to take the medication. It even sends “buddy” reminders to family caregivers!
Along the same line of annoying but necessary devices are the various alarms helping Dad find his ever-wandering set of keys. The Where’s My Keys? locator sells for $24.95 on Amazon and comes with multiple colored key fobs and a central unit. Then there’s the similar Click ‘N Dig for $19.95. According to the review, the “piercing” alarm will assist even those with hearing loss in finding the elusive keys.
Speaking of hearing, the search for better hearing aids may be advancing with such smartphone enabled aids as Re Sound LiNX. They’re pricey however, at $2400 per earl. Audicus digital hearing aids are more affordable at $599 per ear. One hopes at that price the tinnitus-like whine emitted by most conventional hearing aids will be avoided.
Older adults frequently experience difficulty sleeping. The fitness trackers that monitor sleep patterns can help identify exactly how much sleep they’re getting, so that they can adopt better sleep habits. AARP reviewed both the Polar Loop ($109.95) and Jawbone’s UP24 bands favorably for comfort and usefulness.
For older adults with Parkinson’s and other movement disorders, Liftware ($295) is a special type of utensil that helps them eat without spilling due to involuntary tremors.
Then there are the Big Brother devices for caregivers of older adults at risk of falls or wandering due to dementia. For the latter, the GPS Smartsole shoe insole $299) has a tracking chip that works with various smartphones, computers and tablets. Then there’s the Lively activity tracker ($34.95 per month) that comes with sensors which can be attached to key spots such as the bathroom or the door, sending signals to family members or caregivers about the individual’s movements. It can also track medications and send alerts via phone or text about any falls or other emergencies.
So, if technology has not yet enabled us to stay young indefinitely as the science fiction movies promised, it is working on making the difficulties of old age more manageable for older adults and their loved ones.