As life expectancy increases globally, how we can provide long-term care for aging citizens is a vital issue. Data from the World Bank shows an increasingly aging population, with an accelerating rise in the number of people over 65 since 2010, regardless of a country’s economic status.
Studies have warned of the aging population nearly doubling by 2050, while the average life expectancy increases by almost eight years.
This has motivated governments around the world such as the U.S. to increase investments in IoT for quick-action projects. Aiming to help communities become more livable and meet the needs of its senior and aging residents.
Integrating IoT aims to improve public places, transportation, housing, and more. We outline 4 key areas where IoT solutions have and will continue to positively influence the lives of seniors.
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Increase overall convenience
There are numerous ways smart, connected IoT devices can make life easier for people and especially seniors. For instance, buying groceries can be as simple using a smart phone or fridge. Integration of these two interfaces means automating the purchasing process when inventory is running low.
By 2025, drivers 65 and older will represent 25 percent of the driving population, compared with 15 percent in 2001. In this case, smart cars save addresses and navigating during the journey. In fact, fully autonomous cars may become a reality sooner than you think. Companies such as Telsa, Ford, BMW and Volvo already have prototypes underway.
Leveraging IoT in the automotive space is also lifesaving. Considering drivers 65 and older are 16 percent more likely to cause an accident than drivers of other age groups.
Alleviate mobility issues
Common mobility issues may cause some discomfort during the golden years and are unavoidable. Two-thirds of Americans over age 65 require assistance with daily living activities which causes many seniors to feel a loss of independence. These lifestyle changes also make them more prone to depression. IoT makes self-sufficiency and independence possible for even those with advanced mobility issues.
IoT devices enable seniors to overcome a number of mobility issues. Those who have trouble moving around their homes can install a smart HVAC system and meters to limit the amount of walking and standing they need to do. Similarly, smart lighting systems with sensors automatically illuminate the pathway to any destination in the dark and switch off when not in use.
IoT devices can help make independent senior living safer. Motion sensor alert emergency services or caregivers if no movement is detected over a long period of time. Ensuring help will arrive faster after a fall or illness. Accelerometers, sound and vibration sensors can automatically detect falls and send alerts with voice activation if something goes wrong.
Sensors can also track changes in air quality, notifying the homeowner or caregiver if levels exceed an acceptable level. For example, senior citizens are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning. To the extent that cities like Dublin, Ireland, have donated carbon monoxide alarms to care homes and facilities to prevent accidents from happening.
General home security is also improved with smart locks, cameras, and sensors to alert homeowners of any unusual activity. They can also help seniors monitor their homes independently, without just relying on a third party.
We have previously discussed how healthcare is one of the most promising applications of IoT technology. With an aging population, healthcare resources are spread thinner and thinner. IoT devices can monitor everything from medication compliance to blood pressure. Smart pill boxes help make sure medication is taken as prescribed, or a diabetic patient could monitor their glucose levels and automatically log them online.
Senior healthcare facilities can monitor recovering patients by installing a smart pad in their bed. Alerting caregivers when unusual patterns are detected or when and need help getting up. Again, these devices may help seniors live with more independence and peace of mind without putting more strain on healthcare workers.
Data from these devices can also be shared with caregivers, doctors, or even family members for improved care and overall health of the user.
According to studies by the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of seniors aged 65 and older in the U.S. own a mobile phone, and of those, 61 percent are smartphones. 45 percent of seniors under the age of 75 even use social networking sites. So, the barrier towards the adoption of IoT is not as significant as you might think.
IoT holds so much potential for the senior community and can help alleviate some of the issues faced by an aging population. Used well, it can enhance independence, longevity, and well-being, for our seniors, while simultaneously easing the stress on those that love them.
For more information surrounding cellular IoT connectivity and solutions, try out our IoT SIMs today. Set yourself apart from other IoT providers with your deployment by scheduling a one-on-one meeting with us. Together with our partners, we have a relentless commitment to creating simple, elegant yet effective solutions for your evolving needs.