What are some of the more interesting new gadgets that have come on the market designed for the Boomer consumer and their Senior parents?
PRESTO A machine that allows you to receive email, photos and other documents without having to use a computer. From their website: "... simply pick up printed messages from the tray, read and enjoy. No checking a computer for messages or struggling with email attachments. It's all done automatically. Nothing to do or learn." In addition, the PrestoConnect interface allows other family members to either create reminders or to-do lists and set a schedule for delivery to the machine.
I've actually seen a Presto in use by one of my clients, an 83 yr. old woman whose family lived out of state. The machine doesn't take up much room, is no larger than a normal sized printer, measures about 18" long x 15" wide and weighs approximately 13 lbs. My client placed the Presto on one of her kitchen counters and was delighted to be able to receive pictures of her great grandchildren and notes from her daughter throughout the day. If I remember correctly, she even had crossword puzzles automatically delivered to her each day.
CLEARSOUNDS Amplified phones, cell phones, wireless TV headsets plus other assistive devices for those experiencing hearing loss. From their website: "With the prevalence of hearing loss on the rise, the need for good amplifier phones will become more and more important."
Between an increase in life expectancy, side effects of certain groups of medications, and noise exposure, hearing loss in the U.S. is increasing. Occupational hearing loss remains a serious problem and recreational hearing loss from firearms, jet skis, snowmobiles, personal sound systems, etc. is on the rise. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 1/3 of all hearing loss can be attributed to noise exposure (NIH 1990). Clearsound has developed an appealing array of updated equipment for those with mild, moderate and severe hearing loss. Wireless headsets, cell phone neck loops, portable phone amplifiers are all things that an aging Boomer would be familiar and comfortable with.
TABSAFE Medication Dispenser. The Winner of the 2011 CES (Consumer Electronics Showcase) Awards Showcase for Design and Innovation in Health & Wellness. From their website: "TabSafe is a personal medication management system that securely stores medications to be dispensed on a specific time schedule. TabSafe has been designed to reduce the most common medication errors, and therefore increase the wellness and independence of its users."
Medicine cartridges are programmed with the dosage and time the medication is to be taken. The dispenser sends visual and audible reminders for medication adherence with verification of completion and also provides three follow-up alerts to prevent missing a scheduled dosage.
Additionally, there has been an onslaught of remote monitoring technologies that address the need for on-premise continuous watching and fall detection. The new technology can monitor motion and sound and send out periodic alerts to family or other caregivers. These systems usually include simple, stylish devices worn in a variety of ways (on the wrist, around the waist or neck, on a belt) and utilize GPS and wireless technologies for tracking movement. Caregivers are automatically notified if the wearer of the device falls. Look for Lifecomm (personal emergency response system), Sonamba (well-being status monitoring), BeClose (remote monitoring), Wellcore (fall detection), and Grandcare Systems (remote monitoring).
What remains to be seen is whether or not the Boomer market will actually purchase these products. No one yet understands why those who are so ready to buy new computers, smart phones, ipads, digital cameras, and flat screen tv's are reluctant to spend money on motion detectors, remote care management devices and personal emergency systems either for themselves or their parents. Aging-in-place technology has come a long way. We now have to educate the consumer as to its benefits.