The internet is revolutionising elderly care

The world wide web has been at our fingertips for over two decades now, and it has come an incredibly long way. From noisy dial up connections and impossibly slow download times, to streaming events in real time and speaking face to face with friends across the world, the internet has transformed our daily lives.

Not only has it changed how we watch movies, communicate with friends and find information, but it’s revolutionising how we care for the elderly as well.

For example, Olympic Stairlifts is catering to their customers on a more personal level by creating a digital map and directory of local over 55’s social groups. This allows the elderly to discover communities in their area from the comfort and safety of their homes, and get in contact with group coordinators if there are issues with transport, accessibility or the like.

Not only that, but the Imperial College Business School in London has been running drop-in tech classes to help older people learn basic digital skills, such as sending photographs and being safe online. This allows them to access a world of information and advice easily, and also stay better connected to friends and family in a world which can be more lonely than ever.

Even those with conditions and problems which require professional care, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, can benefit from the internet in ways which we could never have guessed back in 1991.

Remembering what’s important

The world can feel uncomfortably unfamiliar to those living with dementia, which may provoke feelings of distress or anger. This is something that the creators of MindMate had to consider when they set about building what they refer to as the “best app available”. Not only does MindMate offer stimulation for the brain with memory exercises and interactive games, but allows users to build their personal stories. This can then be shared with friends and family, or used to simply explore your personal information, which can come in especially handy if a user finds themselves in hospital or a care home.

There are, of course, many other apps like this, some of which may suit an individual’s needs better.

Increased independence

Sometimes it can be exhausting for carers to be with their patients or relatives 24/7, and yet desperately worrying when they are apart from them. New leaps in tracking technology means that carers are able to stay more connected than ever.

For example, Buddi is a wristband designed to be worn at all times. It’s waterproof, tamperproof, lightweight and able to be charged whilst worn. The biggest draw of this device is that carers are able to monitor the wearer’s location, whether that means making sure that they stay in safe areas the carer has approved, or finding them if they should become confused and lost outside the home. It also has an emergency push button, and an automatic fall alert.

This allows both the carer and patient or relative to be apart from each other without the same level of worry. It also grants those with memory-related conditions to take more control of their lives, knowing that their Buddi can alert loved ones and carers if they need assistance.

Technology that learns

The Internet of Things refers to devices which are connected to the Internet. Today, phones and computers are the most common devices to be connected, but the Internet of Things hopes to expand that list to many of our household items.

For carers, this technological breakthrough can help not only monitor but actually care for elderly relatives and patients. For example, experts are hoping to release bottles which will dispense correct dosages at correct times, with reminders sent to smartphones, chairs which can monitor how long someone has been sitting, and avatars to help guide people through care routines. Other “things” include heating systems which can detect dangerous temperatures to protect older people from illnesses, and electric metres which alert families to unexpected lulls in activity.

The information these “things” continue to gather can be later shared with carers, allowing for better, more personalised care.

Of course, no technology will ever be able to replace the comfort of real, human touch and kindness. The humanity of our care of the elderly is an essential component, but as the internet continues to grow and change, it will continue to better inform us about the best ways to provide care for those who need it most.