It seems like everyone these days has a Fitbit, Jawbone or Garmin activity tracker. With data on daily movements tracked and compiled, they’re changing the way we move and keep track of our health. Besides our physical health and tracking those marathon-training miles, researchers and developers are working to create activity-tracking solutions for seniors!
CarePredict - created a wearable tracking system that not only tracks a person’s movements during the day, but incorporates sensors placed around the home that can track where movement occurs. It’s revolutionary for seniors and safety with the ability to A - tell if a person is moving or lying down and B - tell if that person is lying down in their bedroom or in the bathroom. The system sets up a "normal" for the individual by tracking them for several days. Then, any irregularities in that normal - slower walking, decreased activity, etc. are sent via text message, email, etc. to a designated family member.
Toshiba has also rolled out a new activity band, designed with the senior in mind. The wristband includes sensors that tracks temperature, pulse and movement. The company is using it for a 3-year study about dementia - tracking how movement relates to memory loss. We’ll be watching out for the results on that one! Fascinating stuff.
A few problems with these fitness trackers is the “off-the-shelf” models aren’t designed with a senior in mind. I take a look at my own Jawbone and while relatively simple for me to use, I can’t imagine my parents wearing them, downloading the app, logging into the app, syncing, and navigating through all the tools inside. In a study called Project Catalyst, nearly 100 seniors were issued wristband activity trackers to gain senior interest. The results were underwhelming, but interesting - seniors felt that with aging changes in skin, the wristbands were uncomfortable to wear. The group also wanted to track things that were more relevant to them such as blood sugar levels and heart rate.
Looks like there’s more to come on the horizon for activity trackers and seniors. As I track my daily steps, I wonder - when I’m 80, what kind of technology will be there to keep me living independently? Stay-tuned to find out!