AgeTech to the Rescue! Tech Solutions for Older Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 is challenging for older adults, their families, and for elderly-care providers. While social distancing is required to save the lives of the most vulnerable people in our society, it has serious consequences. This new reality we live in, makes it hard for all of us to maintain a social and healthy lifestyle, and especially for older adults. Can technology help?
Social and communication
Human beings are social creatures, that doesn’t change when people grow old. For older adults, who are used to socializing with family and friends, and going out to run errands (rather than having everything delivered), having this important aspect of their lives taken away, is hard to deal with. For others, social isolation and loneliness aren’t new. These issues have plagued the senior population for years.
Luckily, there are many tech companies who are taking loneliness and social isolation head on. One of those is Papa, that offers companionship and help with day-to-day tasks such as transportation, running errands and more. For COVID-19, they launched a “virtual companionship” program, to help older adults who are self-isolating. Others, like Uniper, have made their telehealth and social engagement platform widely available.
For communication with family and friends, Facebook Portal has video calls with Alexa built-in, and it’s also possible to use Alexa devices calls or video calls on devices that have a display (link to step-by-step tutorial).
When it comes to health, those who rely on regular visits to the clinic to monitor their health are reluctant to do so these days, for fear of contracting COVID-19. Those who have recently suffered a health-crisis, and need rehabilitation, can’t get it, and will likely deteriorate without it. Several startups have built telehealth and remote rehabilitation platforms to tackle those issues.
Companies like Tembo Health who provide telemedicine services for nursing homes, or and that provide telehealth for people who are aging in place, have seen a major increase in demand for those services. There are also solutions for remote-patient monitoring, offered by , , or .
There are also startups focused on providing remote rehabilitation, like XR Health that developed technology for physical rehabilitation using VR, or MyndYou that developed an AI-based platform for remote cognitive care.
Lack of exercise is a major risk factor for anyone’s health. Older adults who can’t get proper exercise are at an increased risk of losing their ability to preform the most basic activities of daily living. These AgeTech startups are offering solutions:
For older adults who are aging in place, offers online, easy-to-follow exercise programs designed to help seniors improve their strength, balance and flexibility. Motitech offers senior living communities and other long-term care facilities custom exercise programs for stationary bike, and Restore offers fun exercise that can be done in a gym or in the resident’s room.
For Care Providers
For senior living communities who struggle with contact-tracing of residents who have tested positive for the virus, CarePredict RemindMeCare are announced a new feature, called PinPoint. offering their software for free for the next 6 months.
Home care agencies in the UK who want to reduce unnecessary travel can use OnCare’s software for free until June 2020. Also in the UK, Birdie have decided to offer their eMAR (medication manager), care logs and family app free until the end of June, to any new home care provider that signs up.
Storiicare is offering its Last but not least, family connectivity features at a discount . AlayaCare Released a Virtual Care Solution to keep seniors and care providers safe, and CareAcademy have created a COVID-19 certification for caregivers. Clanz has developed a solution that enables care providers to remotely monitor the quality of care (full disclosure — I work at Clanz).
So, can technology help older adults during the COVID-19 crisis?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is — yes, but only if infrastructure, devices and training were put in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. If your grandmother was able to video call you before social distancing, there’s no reason why she wouldn’t be able to continue to do so now, but what if she isn’t?
While many older adults are experienced in using digital means for communication, grocery shopping, banking and more, many others were not required to learn any of those skills before this crisis emerged. Moreover, doing these things “offline”, used to be preferable, since going outside meant getting some sun, exercise and social interaction. Hopefully, we will see the end of the COVID-19 crisis sooner rather than later. We need our elders engaged in society, for everyone’s sake.
Several AgeTech companies have come up with special COVID-19-related offerings. I’ve compiled a list that can be viewed here.
Please fill in this form if you’d like to add your company.
Originally published at https://www.thegerontechnologist.com on April 7, 2020.