(3 minute read time)“Getting old is so much fun!” Said no one ever!
My mom just turned 80 this year. It seems that there is always at least a portion of every phone call with my mother devoted to her laundry list of aches, pains and ailments. She has to sleep in a chair because she has sleep apnea and back problems; she has asthma and recently had trouble breathing after they repainted the interior of the house; she has bad knees and has to walk with a cane. On and on. I listen because I know it makes her feel better to vent, but it’s hard. I want to ease the pain somehow. But how when even the simplest of tasks are hard on her body and mind. After completing the research I needed for this blog, I have newfound hope. There are many things, many Internet of Things, that could potentially improve my mother’s quality of life. Let me tell you about what I’ve discovered.
Don’t Worry, Get Smart!
Worrying about health issues for many elderly folks is a full-time job. There are many IoT devices that can make life easier for folks like my mom so they can focus on things like their book club, their grandchildren and all those Turner Classic movies of yesteryear! Here’s a list of game-changing IoT examples that have the potential to make life less stressful for the elderly:
IoT sensors can track heart rate, temperature and blood pressure and send a message to a smart phone application that gives recommendations for changing behavior or that it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor. Falling can be a life-threatening event for an older person because they simply can’t get up on their own. IoT sensors can alert loved ones if the user cannot turn off a triggered alarm after a set time, indicating they may have suffered a fall.
There are IoT devices that can detect certain behaviors like getting out of bed, opening the fridge or an uneven gait. These behavior trackers are used to alert loved ones of inactivity or that it may be time for a cane or walker to help prevent future falls.
IoT pill dispensers are equipped with reminder alarms and can also send a message to the owner’s smart phone if a particular pill has not been taken on time.
Coping with Chronic Conditions
Not only can IoT devices help with everyday health problems, but they can also make the following chronic conditions easier to manage.
A Smart Sock is an IoT example of a wearable device that can help alert the patient and their doctor of skin temperature to help track issues of inflammation in their feet.
IoT sensors can help monitor the temperature and quality of the air in the home which is important for patients who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Other IoT examples such as a smart vests and smart inhalers can help patients breathe easier as well as know when it’s time for a refill.
A simple task such as locking and unlocking a door can be painful to those suffering from arthritis. Elders with arthritis can avoid painful tasks with the help of smart locks, smart lighting and smart blinds.
Let’s face it, getting old is no fun and watching mom, dad, grandma or grandpa struggle with their aches and pains is hard. But with engineers developing new IoT devices every day with the aim of improving the lives of people like my mom, maybe the next time I’m on the phone with her, I will have something to offer to ease her pain.