PHILADELPHIA – Medical alert systems provider Medical Guardian has launched a smartwatch designed for healthy aging. The Freedom Guardian wearable medical alert system includes safety features like two-way voice communication, GPS and Wi-Fi location tracking, text-to-speech messaging, calendar alerts and reminders, localized weather forecast and more. “Freedom Guardian is a product that is symbolic of our organization’s next phase of innovative offerings and speaks to a larger shift in the connected health space,” said Geoff Gross, founder and CEO of Medical Guardian, in a statement. “The release of this product will further our mission to empower older Americans to continue living the lives they love, for as long as they can while maintaining an independent lifestyle.”
PHOENIX – SMART Brain Aging has launched Brain U Online, a one-on-one patient intervention program for aging brain health. The program is the result of five years of clinical trials with more than 3,000 participants at Harvard Medical School/Boston University School of Medicine and was developed specifically for aging adults and those with early stage dementia. When used immediately following physical exercise, the programs are proven to delay progression of the disease by up to 2.5 years and reduce the negative cognitive impact by up to 45%, said Dr. John DenBoer, CEO and founder of SMART Brain Aging, in a statement. Brain U Online features more than 20,0000 exercises focused on processing speed, executive functioning, speech and language, memory and attention and concentration, while the companion mobile app, Brain U Lite, features a collection of hundreds of exercises designed to be used on-the-go during or immediately after physical exercise. “Let me be clear, this is not a ‘brain game,'” said Dr. John DenBoer, CEO and founder of SMART Brain Aging, in a statement. “It is the first and only scientifically supported digital therapy program developed specifically for aging adults who want to maintain healthy brain function and those suffering from the early stages of dementia.”
TOKYO – Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed a new ultrathin, elastic display that fits snugly on the skin and can show the moving waveform of an electrocardiogram recorded by a breathable, on-skin electrode sensor. Combined with a wireless communication module, the “skin electronics” integrated biomedical sensor system can transmit biometric data to the cloud. “Our skin display exhibits simple graphics with motion,” said Takao Someya, lead researcher, in a statement. “Because it is made from thin and soft materials, it can be deformed freely.” The system enhances information accessibility for people such as the elderly or the ill, who tend to have difficulty operating and obtaining data from existing devices and interfaces. Someya said it has the potential to help ease the strain on home health care systems in aging societies through continuous, non-invasive health monitoring and self-care at home. The new integrated system combines a flexible, deformable display with a lightweight sensor composed of a breathable nanomesh electrode and wireless communication module. Medical data measured by the sensor, such as an electrocardiogram, can either be sent wirelessly to a smartphone for viewing or to the cloud for storage. The display is stretchable by as much as 45% of its original length and the nanomesh skin sensor can be worn on the skin continuously for a week without causing any inflammation. “The current aging society requires user-friendly wearable sensors for monitoring patient vitals to reduce the burden on patients and family members providing nursing care,” said Someya. “Our system could serve as one of the long-awaited solutions to fulfill this need, which will ultimately lead to improving the quality of life for many.”
‘We don’t want seniors to fear technology’
LOUISVILLE, Ky. –Following a grand opening last month, visitors to the Thrive Innovation Center can now stop by or arrange a tour of the 7,500-square-foot space to see and test state-of-the-art technology, including wearables and therapeutic solutions that support healthy aging in place.
“At a vulnerable time like when a patient is discharged from the hospital, there was really no place for families to go to see the technology and innovation they might be using to stay healthy in their home,” said Sheri Rose, CEO and executive director of the Thrive Innovation Center. “The center will provide a unique environment to collaborate around the goal of powering better care through technology.”
The Thrive Innovation Center features companies with market penetration whose technologies fit the center’s changing themes. The inaugural theme is memory care/dementia/Alzheimer’s disease, so products currently featured include beaconing platforms, gait assessment and fall risk platforms, telehealth and more. Rose said the center will also begin offering monthly programs and classes designed around the featured technologies.
The Thrive Innovation Center was established through a number of grants, donations, underwriting and in-kind gifts as a nonprofit organization. CDW Healthcare funded the center’s technology infrastructure, and additional technology support has come from companies like Lenovo, Hewlett Packard, Intel and Samsung, among others.
Louisville is home to a large cluster of companies that focus on senior care like Signature HealthCARE, Kindred Healthcare and PharMerica, who are also Thrive supporters, so locating the first center here made sense, Rose said. With the U.S. Census Bureau projecting the number of people aged 65 and up to be more than 98 million in 2060, she said she’d be happy to see others established in cities all over the country.
“What drives us is a passion to make a difference,” Rose said. “We don’t want seniors to fear technology.”
BOSTON – There will be more people in the World over the age of 65 than under 5 in just three years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and 16% of the world’s population will be at least that age by 2025. Health care forecasts are calling for a shortage of doctors and nurses to care for aging adults in years to come.
“If we don’t think about how we’re going to change the way we deliver health care, we’re going to run out of caregivers,” said Dr. Joe Kvedar in his keynote address last week at the Connected Health Conference in Boston.
Kvedar, vice president of connected health at Partners HealthCare, said that today’s health care delivery model is a one-to-one system, but that connected health presents a way to make a model that is more efficient, less expensive and one that taps into the growing trend of consumerism in health care.
“People over the age of 50 present a huge opportunity for connected health today,” Kvedar said. “The challenge is figuring out how we turn aging from a burden to an opportunity and create a new kind of ‘old’.”
Health care technology needs to be designed for an extended health span as the country’s population is living an average of 25 years longer than in years past, Kvedar said. Health care platforms, devices and systems must address the issue of chronic illness management that expands the reach of providers.
Technology can address the three major predictors of aging health, Kvedar said, by giving seniors a sense of purpose, social connection and outlets for physical activity.
“As we live longer, our bodies will eventually begin to give out and we will have more touches with the health system,” he said. “Connected health allows one care provider to manage hundreds of patients and, if you set it up right, the patients will feel well-cared-for and well-connected.”
‘Technology is continuing to provide the best platform for engagement across the various players involved in the lives of the elderly’
SAN FRANCISCO – Val Ornoy believes that connected care is about more than health care—it needs to bring together health, family and community engagement to support seniors as they transition through life’s late stages.
Here’s what Ornoy, CEO of LifeAssist Technologies, which provides connected devices and platforms that promote active and independent living for seniors, had to say about the significant mind-shift that needs to take place in the way the U.S. thinks about the increasing number of adults who want to age in place.
HHTN: You have cited a recent briefing by AARP that reports almost 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, and that they are willing to engage in day-to-day health care assistance to do it. What does this statistic tell us in terms of healthy aging?
ORNOY: The impact of this statistic has significant ramifications across senior/family/community-centered approaches to health and active aging. U.S. Census data estimates a rise in adults age 65 or older who are aging without the benefits of an adequate family, health and/or community support system. An estimated one-quarter of these adults will potentially become “elder orphans.” Regardless of this country’s rugged individualism, there is a strong need for family and social support providing healthy engagement and less reliance on clinical and institutional care.
HHTN: Do you see the home health care industry moving to address these issues?
ORNOY: New approaches are emerging to better address coordination of care and connecting our health systems, community-based services and the network of support. Age-friendly solutions are being developed and launched to provide enhanced models of care for older adults.
HHTN: How can technology help?
ORNOY: Technology is continuing to provide the best platform for engagement across the various players involved in the lives of the elderly as they transition. Key to the elderly’s core needs is the ability of technology to assist them in routines, communication, health and the daily control of their lives. Support of aging adults and their independence is often focused on the health component, as it is vital to allowing them to age in place, but technology can also reduce the feeling of isolation.
HHTN: What technologies are the most helpful in addressing these concerns?
ORNOY: The technologies with the best returns focus on: integrating schedules and calendars to manage and track treatments, appointments and social events; connecting and distributing data from wearables and the Internet of Things; devices to monitor vital signs and behavior trends; and communication across video, text and photos for social and medical support.
‘This is a huge opportunity to solve these problems. IBM alone cannot solve them; we need a whole ecosystem.’
NEW ORLEANS – Talk of IBM Watson is everywhere these days, from legal realms to banking, academics and athletics. But the supercomputer is also changing the health care landscape with its cognitive computing capabilities and, more specifically, disrupting the aging process.
At the recent Home Health Technology Summit, Dr. Ruoyi Zhou, director of accessibility research at IBM, presented a session on “Outthinking Aging” and how the company is using technology to change the way health care is delivered to people as they age at home.
“The challenge is daunting,” said Zhou, reminding the audience that for the first time in human history people age 65 and older are surpassing the number of people age five and under. “Most technology is designed and evolved by the young—how do we design a world for this aging population?”
Zhou said some of the biggest challenges to health care for an aging population are the cost of care and loneliness.
“These two factors drive our research agenda,” said Zhou.
The company is leveraging Watson, robots, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, and developing brain-inspired computing to investigate how people can stay in their homes as they age, saving money for health care systems and insurers, and providing peace of mind and dignity to patients and caregivers.
Following partnerships with Apple and Japan Post Group, Rice University and Italian health care provider Solé Cooperativa, IBM announced in February a partnership with the Avamere Family of Companies that will apply the power of cognitive computing to help caregivers improve eldercare at senior living and health centers. Avamere provides a continuum of post-acute care to seniors in more than 40 independent living facilities.
Zhou said IBM has transformed itself from a closed company focused on programming to one that is transparent, inviting collaboration from all walks of life to solve the problems facing an aging population.
“This is a huge opportunity to solve these problems,” she said. “IBM alone cannot solve them, we need a whole ecosystem.