Your elderly family members may speak wistfully of the good old days, but they are certainly not recalling stories of their own grandparents’ possible falls and decreased ability to care for themselves. In the not so distant past, options were limited for seniors with memory lapses, frequent falls or difficulties in independently performing their daily activities. They (or their families) could hire outside help to the degree necessary (and affordable), they could move in with their children, or they could enter nursing homes to receive the help they required.
Replacing Deficits with Technology
The 75 million strong Baby Boomer generation began to demand technological solutions to the deficits in memory, sight, balance and hearing that frequently accompany aging. And companies listened. A combination of personal vanity, a decade-by-decade postponement of when old age actually begins and technological advances now allow seniors to live as if they are decades younger.
Fading eyesight is now replaced with lineless bifocals or trifocals, or even bifocal contact lenses. Hearing aids are implanted or are small enough to be worn inside the ear canal and hidden to the public. Personal emergency systems are purposely made to resemble jewelry or a wristwatch, as either wristbands or pendants. Home telephones have extra large numerals for ease of dialing and an extra volume control for the handset to facilitate hearing.
Planning for Emergencies
Personal emergency lifeline systems, available since the mid-80’s, have become available to resemble jewelry with a button to press to call for assistance. Additionally, automated systems have been developed that recognize if someone has fallen and is unconscious or otherwise unable to initiate the emergency system.
Did I Remember?
The old plastic box with a container for each day of the week is useless if someone is unable to remember the date or day of the week. Furthermore, many medications prescribed to the elderly require self-administration on a more frequent basis than once per day. Already on the market, a programmable medication dispensing system audibly reminds a senior that a medication is due and dispenses the proper dosage when the reminder is acknowledged by pressing a button.
On the Horizon
Intelligent telephones that help a senior remember the caller with a photograph and other reminders, a notification system that confirms that the postman has delivered the mail, GPS tracking systems to avoid confused individuals becoming lost and even sensors in the soles of a senior’s shoes are all technological adaptations under development.
Boomers, born during a time of enormous potential and prosperity, will hardly decrease their expectations for such as they age. Whether the adaptation is a walk-in bathtub, a car that parks itself or a larger font on product labels, Boomers are going to get what they want by virtue of their economic clout. Many of the adaptations and inventions that will become commonplace as this huge population cluster ages have yet to be imagined.