Growing old gracefully, with a little tech help

19th August 2019
Growing old gracefully, with a little tech help
Dr Biji of the Malabar CancerCentre, in teleconference with a patient as part of the Centre's e-palliative care initiative

August 21  is  the UN-proclaimed World Senior Citizen Day. Here's how technology is making life  easier for aging adults.|
August 19 2019: On three days of the week, Dr M.S. Biji, head of the Department of Palliative Care at the Malabar Cancer Centre, in  Thalassery, Kerala, slips on a pair of head phones and positions herself in front of her desktop computer. She connects through Internet and a video calling software,  with dozens of  ageing  patients, some staying 30 kms away and too weak to   visit a hospital.
Interns  from the hospital are already there at the patients' side,  to record clinical data. But for many patients, the weekly  chat with Dr Biji  makes their lives a bit more bearable -- as they learn to live with dignity in spite of their condition. "We call it e-palliative care", explains the doctor, " Talking to and 'seeing'  their medical attendant  right from their bedsides, gives comfort and solace, not just medical advice."
This Kerala  model of telemedicine, has won international kudos  --- and is just one of the ways, technology allows aging adults, even healthy ones, to grow old gracefully today.  And making this happen  has created a new challenge -- and an opportunity -- for industry: Gerontechnology:   using high tech to  enhance senior living.|
The mobile phone  has become the life line for many ageing users  and special models  cater to  arthritic fingers, failing hearing and  diminished eyesight. on the website, you can find a range of phones for senior  like the Easyfone Grand ( Rs  4990) with special features like large keys,  a speed photo dialer where you can insert the image of the  persons you regularly  call;    a docking station for easy recharging and a large and dedicated SOS button  that sets off a loud alarm and sends  text messages while calling 5 emergency contacts.  Another model, Easyfone Royale ( Rs 3350)  is made for those who want to link a hearing aid to their phone.
One portal that  serves senior citizens  with a wide selection of their needs is  It offers   the Dromos Bluetooth Tracker  ( Rs 1199)  that you can attach to things like keys or spectacles. When you misplace them you can  click on your smartphone to set off a buzzing sound to track them And usefully, if you carry one on your person, your loved ones can find you if you get lost. I also liked theSmart Finger print padlock ( Rs 2899)  that elders can open by placing a thumb on it, without struggling with keyholes  or number locks.

Diagnostics  @ home
One  of the biggest hassles  for the aged is having to go to a clinic to take diagnostic tests. These days there are services,   where technicians  come and take blood samples and the like at home. But what about heart patients or  those who need constant  monitoring of blood pressure and other vitals?  Many  smart watches and activity trackers now routinely ,measure heart rate. But  some also provide  another vital  piece of heart-health data: your ECG.   On this page last year  we have reviewed one of the most affordable  the T Band developed by Hyderabad-based Smartron, a wearable that records both Blood Pressure  and ECG ( now at a good  discount at Flipkart) .  
The  Mevofit  Race E 500 Thrust  smart watch ( Rs 6999) continuously monitors  the  heart condition. Clasp the band tightly on your wrist to get  ECG trace.The device also measures BP and   PPG orphotoplethysmography , a measure of blood volume. Data like ECGs recorded  by such devices may not be as comprehensive as a 12- lead recording done in a clinic, but one could  quickly   -- not..

Technology is finally and  increasingly taking note of seniors.  Thanks to this, we can  all hope to  grow old,  safely  and smartly. For images of these  products  see here