Four devices help seniors stay independent - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Four devices help seniors stay independent

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(04/01/14) - If an older adult you love, like a parent, is living alone, there are four high tech gadgets you need to know about.

There are nearly 40 million Americans over the age of 65, and that number is supposed to double in the next five years. Those 85 and older will make up 15 percent of the population. Seniors want independence, and new technology is allowing them to live at home longer than ever before.

Josie and Bernie Shelly are in their 80s. They still ride a motorcycle and live independently. They have no plans of  slowing down.

But, Josie says, she does worry about one of them having an accident at home, "I think that's always on your mind, if you, you know, if you was to fall and one or the other wasn't to be here."

One-in-three people over the age of 65 falls each year, but new technology may help keep a watchful eye on our aging population.   

"We are doing research to find things to keep older adults in their home longer," says Dr. Debra Krotish, of the University of South Carolina Medial School.

One device, a vibration detector, can be placed on the floor to detect if a person has fallen. Motion sensors in a senior's home can track their movements. Family members or friends can stay alerted, in the event of a fall, from their computers, without being too intrusive.    

"If you put them by the bedside or by the bathroom door, you know that mom has gotten up in the middle of the night," Krotish said.

New research shows 30 percent of people who end up in nursing homes do so because they cannot manage their medication. Now, pill dispensers have gone high tech. They have certainly come a long way from a box with pills divided by days of the week. The latest pill dispenser is loaded by a caregiver, who can load up several days' worth of medicine. The machine, which is able to speak to the patient, is coded to deliver the right amount at the right time.   

High tech blood pressure cuffs and scales send data by Bluetooth to an online system that family members and caregivers can also access.

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