As the aging population increases, it is likely that the COVID-19 pandemic will shape the future of assisted living communities and healthcare advancements. The role of technology in improving diagnosis, treatment, safety, and social health is becoming more important than ever.
Because of this, the quality, accessibility, and cost of elder care are likely to improve significantly in the coming years.
In the last decade, phone apps, GPS systems, and telehealth have seen a boost in popularity in terms of maintaining the balance of independent senior living. Many senior communities have adopted the use of these systems, along with special wellness programs.
In terms of healthcare, telemedicine has improved senior access to medical professionals, along with smartwatches and other wearables that monitor vital signs.
To prevent social isolation from setting in, senior communities have plenty of amenities and professional staff that help seniors age safely and gracefully. With numerous lifestyle options and special home and security features, retirement communities provide peace of mind for older adults and their families.
To help reduce the spread of illness, it is likely that there will be a greater emphasis on the development of outdoor features as well as green spaces. Gardens, paths, and sidewalks help seniors stay fit and promote walks and sporting activities in senior homes.
In addition, patios, balconies, and gardens should provide greater privacy or movement for seniors who want to pursue gardening, yoga, and other activities. This can help improve socialization and physical fitness for seniors as a whole.
Lifelong learning can help seniors stay engaged and motivated as they continue to age. While laptops and smartphones with larger displays are already being used in many campuses and classes, it is likely that more accessibility-themed features will be geared towards seniors in the future.
There should also be increased adoption of voice-recognition technology in senior homes, through devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. These can help seniors remember when to take their medicine and assist with common questions. Furthermore, online resident-only web portals and virtual concierges can help seniors navigate their community with more ease and plan activities throughout the day.
While a large number of communities are offering wellness programs that boost health, these are likely to become even more varied and widespread in the future. Exercise classes are increasingly available online, but the role of physical classes and experienced instructors shouldn’t be discounted.
There is no replacement for the role of fitness in reducing depression and stress while promoting overall wellness. Low-impact activities such as water aerobics, tai chi, and yoga are becoming more popular for seniors looking for a way to stay fit and healthy.
The impact of the pandemic has showcased the vital need for air purification systems throughout senior care communities. This can improve air circulation and disinfect the atmosphere in a safe and toxic-free way for seniors.
In addition to this, providing personal emergency response tools such as the Black+Decker goVia line can provide 24/7 monitoring for seniors and alert authorities in the event of a medical emergency. For those living alone, it provides an avenue to call for help. Others also make use of GPS and Wi-Fi to provide nationwide coverage for maximum safety.
Making the switch to retirement living doesn’t mean that seniors will have to deal with the monotony of a typical meal plan. As senior communities become more competitive, greater restaurant dining options are likely to appear. Nutritious yet tasty meals are likely to be on the menu, from more casual options to fine dining in style.
Furthermore, many continuing care communities are also installing small bistros, cafes, and ice cream parlors that can help seniors satisfy their cravings between mealtimes. Healthy snack machines can give them a bite to eat before a golf game, art class, or even a midnight treat.
For older generations, cutting-edge technology is one of the best solutions to promoting independence as much as possible. To supplement in-person care, telemedicine, smartwatches, robots, artificial intelligence, and robotics are likely to play a growing role.
Although hospitals have previously limited their explorations into telemedicine, the pandemic has demonstrated that virtual tools are invaluable when it comes to tracking, managing, and improving patient health. Since some older people tend to be more suspicious or hesitant to use technology, overcoming this barrier is essential to widespread adoption.
Telemedicine has many benefits. It can improve the speed and efficiency of diagnosis for those who don’t live near a hospital or have trouble leaving home. It can also reduce the waiting time in hospitals and free up physician time for those with more urgent illnesses. With time, it is likely to become more commonly used across the country.
Wearable devices such as Apple’s smartwatches are gaining traction among individuals of all ages. This technology has great potential in terms of healthcare as it helps experts collect medical data and improve our understanding of how the body works. It can also help seniors manage chronic health conditions more independently and promote fitness.
A study found that seniors may be hesitant to adopt these wearable devices because of their difficulty in understanding the data it produces. For younger generations, helping their loved ones use and understand these watches can promote greater adoption. Tech companies can also address usability and create features that can boost the confidence of seniors.
In the coming years, companion robots can become valuable companions for seniors. Some prototypes include the robotic seal pup named Paro, which is a Japanese “carebot” designed to help dementia patients. It provides a sense of companionship and promotes bonding as they interact with it.
Another example is the Enrichme project making use of Tiago robots, which were sent into the homes of the elderly. They acted as personal and fitness assistants and helped track down lost items while providing a form of companionship for those who were lonely. After the experiment, many seniors were saddened by the loss of their robot companions.
For seniors who live alone, falls can be a dangerous occurrence that can lead to a hospital visit. Artificial intelligence technology can help alert staff and detect the severity of the injury. One example is the AI-based fall detection technology from a Bay Area startup called SafelyYou.
It was installed in 23 apartments and was said to reduce hospital trips by 80%, according to the company’s executive director. However, the technology isn’t perfected and there are some privacy concerns when it comes to monitoring seniors at all times. With time, this is likely to improve along with more effective cybersecurity measures.
A rapidly growing industry, e-textiles are materials that make use of electronics to improve sensing and processing of data. It is projected to reach $2 billion by 2029 in terms of value and has many implications in terms of aging and health. Since watches are quite common in our daily lives, clothing is also familiar and easily used.
For those who are sensitive about their health conditions, textiles can help remove some of the stigmas while providing key insights for aging individuals. Some applications include ECG shirts that warn wearers of early heart disease and electrode garments that help rehabilitate patients after a stroke. There are also insoles and shoes that can detect falls.
Although it varies depending on your current location, the cost of living in an independent living community can range from between $1,500 to $4,000 a month. Those who require the use of assisted living facilities can expect to pay anywhere between $3,500 to $10,500 a month.
Long-term care for seniors involves personal care, such as bathing, dressing, eating, and using the toilet. Older adults may also need assistance with getting out of bed and into a chair or vehicle. Other common services can also include the provision of meals, transportation services, and more.
Seniors with serious health conditions or physical difficulties may need to invest in long-term care.
Artificial intelligence can help seniors by monitoring vital signs and assisting with diagnosis and medical appointments. It can reduce the need for expensive hospital visits through online questionnaires and aid doctors by providing detailed data to improve their medical knowledge.
The major challenges that impact health care today include the increasing provision of telehealth, uncertainty in the face of the global pandemic, and the vital need for cooperation and collaboration for global clinical trials.
For seniors considering long-term care in the future, institutions will need to consider the challenge of catering to an aging population, how to cope with staffing shortages in the healthcare industry, and how to finance the cost of care while providing top-quality services.
In the future, technology will play a pivotal role in improving the quality and accessibility of senior care. In addition to wearable technology, artificial technology, and telehealth, further efforts must be made to promote the safety and care of seniors living in independent and assisted living communities. Learn more about the major trends in senior health and wellness with Senior Strong today.