In my last post, I wrote about mainstream health IT products, technologies that can improve lives of our older relatives, friends. There are also a lot of products and solutions for many individual problems: for older adults with a hand tremor, there is a special spoon with a stabilizing handle to help enjoy meals together with the family. Alternatively, there is a range of products that make dressing up easier for anyone who cannot use of one of their hands, such as one-handed belts, sock aids, and even one-handed nail clippers.

However, even with all these advances in IT, some products are still on the wish list of the elderly. Barbara Beskind, a 94-year-old designer, working part-time at a company designing services and products for senior citizens has some ideas about what might help. She gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal, where she spoke of some of her plans.

Fall prevention

For instance, she would love if some wearable inflatable air bags could help prevent hip injuries in case of a fall. Home accidents can be fatal to older people, so any kind of technology that can prevent falling in the bathroom or outside, on the sidewalk, is welcome. Moreover, if accidents still occur, quick help proves to be lifesaving – fortunately emergency calling solutions are already in place.

Visual aids

Older people have a reduced ability to discriminate colors at the green-blue-violet end of the color spectrum. As the eye ages, it requires greater intensities of color for the visual system to perceive stimuli. Poor color discrimination interacts with poor contrast-sensitivity, and such boundary detection is a challenge. Some high-tech glasses with camera or photo identity feature for the people who are approaching, maybe coupled with a voice-recognition technology is definitely an item on the wish list. Ms. Beskin is working on a prototype of a pair of glasses for those with macular degeneration – also an age-related illness.

Hearing aids

Hearing deteriorates with age; older people may not hear sounds that shape our daily lives, such as doorbells, telephones, alarm clocks. A device that reduces background noise and highlights the essential sounds would be excellent. A better hearing aid, one that can be worn at night, during sleep, is also a missing product.

Better walking

Many older adults have a hard time walking, but refuse to use walking sticks or frames because they find it humiliating. A lot of them are using Nordic Walking poles equipped with telescopes that help them lift off the ground. These poles come with removable rubber tips for use on hard surfaces (like asphalt) and hardened metal tips for trails, the beach, snow, and ice. However, walking aids designed especially for seniors are still missing from the market. Barbara Beskin is also developing an alternative walker with vertical grips to promote good posture and to maintain alternative arm-leg movements.

If you have an idea for a product that may help you, just use Google search, maybe you can find a suitable product. If you don’t, please let us know in the comment section below, what health IT service, product would make your or your patient’s life easier! Let’s expand this wish list together!

Author: Zoltan Mathe