The world’s aging population is turning its eyes on robotics and digital healthcare to make everyday life easier. The elderly will benefit immensely from online tools, cognitive assistance and digital monitoring via wearable tech to make the delivery of healthcare more efficient. This will make a bold impact on the lives of senior citizens, their families, as well as their caregivers; improving their quality of living even as they battle sometimes debilitating conditions.
In Japan, for example, robotics is at the heart of their programs to assist the elderly. According to robotics researcher Antonio Espingardeiro of Robotics Tomorrow, the aging population is pushing scientists to develop various forms of assistive technology to expand the levels of human care.
“Without semi-autonomous robotics or other sensory information processing systems, people with disabilities or seniors will not be able to get the care they need or deserve”
“Without semi-autonomous robotics or other sensory information processing systems, people with disabilities or seniors will not be able to get the care they need or deserve. I’m counting on big data and IoT, robotics and artificial intelligence, in combination, to contribute significantly for a better quality of life for all ages,” Espingardeiro said.
Robots providing assistance to the elderly on a 24/7 schedule will lighten the load of caregivers and will make patient monitoring more accurate and efficient – but only up to a certain extent. The researcher was quick to note that the human senses are still more advanced than machine sensory capabilities. More importantly, robots still lack common sense and emotional intelligence. Eventually though, robots may be programmed with more advanced sensory receptors and they are of course, better at processing big data and quantitative analysis.
Robots can also go with the patients wherever they goes, allowing remote monitoring which can be transmitted to the caregiver or doctors. Video conferencing or video calls can also be set up so the elderly patient can immediately relay how they are feeling.
Espingardeiro sees a future where technology and elderly care will work seamlessly. He said the integration process “must be progressive yet sensitive. The current elderly generation is not tech-savvy and so using basic computers or electronic devices is a foreign concept. However, future generations will have already consumed and appreciated technological innovation at various touch points in daily life. We want to move patients from a spectrum of passive to participative over time. But, to do so, this process requires an ethical approach that establishes trust.”
The digital transformation in healthcare is prevalent in Australia and this development has made consumer-focused technologies a necessity in aging care. According to Accenture’s 2016 survey, the majority of Australia’s 4 million seniors are using technology to manage their health on a regular basis.
This, in turn, creates opportunities for aging care providers, reports said.
“There’s plenty of evidence that populations more generally are using digital technology to help manage their own health”
“There’s plenty of evidence that populations more generally are using digital technology to help manage their own health but under closer analysis we discovered that digital health has no age limit. This gives opportunities to transform the patient experience to be less reliant on the health system and more reliant on themselves, family and carers,” said Ian Manovel, lead author and Accenture Australia principal director.
Additionally, the survey showed a growing interest in technology which will help patients collect data more efficiently. These include smart phones, wearables and home based monitoring equipment.
The aging population is riding on the wave of digital transformation and healthcare tech to improve their quality of life and lessen their dependence on caregivers. Robotics and gadgets that can monitor their vital signs and transmit reports directly to their healthcare providers will allow them to receive treatment faster. These developments are sure to make a bold impact on the lives of millions of seniors who still want to make the most out of their remaining years.