When Caregiver Robots Come for Grandma

Failing the Third Machine Age: When [Caregiver] Robots Come for GrandmaWhen Robots Come for Grandma is a long and thought-provoking article by Zeynep Tufekci, published in 2014. It builds a case against “caregiver robots,” arguing that they are both inhumane and economically destructive. She got me thinking, and I hope this has the same effect on you.

I would have liked to add my own perspectives and contrarian view with links to related articles here at Modern Health Talk. I’d start with Will Robots Take Over in Health Care? Unfortunately there was no space to add comments, so I use her article as a basis for mine and hope you’ll share your thoughts in the space I give below. Read More …

Make Your Home Safe Again!

By Maggie Drag

As we age, we often forget that our homes should age with us! As more and more people aged 65 and older (90 percent according to AARP to be exact), choose to stay in their homes, many don’t follow the proper steps to make their homes safer.

Just a few updates will prevent falls and tragic accidents down the road, so take a look at our list of tips on how to make your living space safer, comfortable and convenient for life!

Stop trips for good

Place a non-slip pad under throw rugs.

  • The number one cause of trips in homes are slippery throw rugs, so make sure to make each rug slip proof with sticky pads or slip-proof tape.
  • If you have hardwood or tile floors, make sure that the surface isn’t too slippery. Either use slip-proof flooring or apply slip-proof coatings.
  • Try installing longer power cords for your electronics, lamps and appliances that you can tuck along a wall to avoid trips in the future.
  • Many homes have thresholds, a small raised edge, between two doors. This can cause trips and make it difficult for those in wheelchairs and walkers. Remove barriers like this with automatic door bottoms that act like special bridges that move across a difficult edge or barrier between doors, different rooms and other surfaces.

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Blitab Braille Tablet for the Blind – Is it needed?

Blitab Braille TabletAs someone who has promoted the Universal Design concept for decades, I was taken back by a Futurism video I saw on the Blitab braille tablet. It is billed as “The World’s First Tablet for the Blind”, but that’s not true, and it’s arguably not nearly the best either. That title, in my view, goes to the Apple iPad with all of its accessibility features, but more on that later. This short article explains my concerns with the Blitab product and the company developing it, because they don’t seem to understand their market or target user. I urge any of my blind friends to challenge me on this assertion in the comments below.

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Smart Assistive Technology Collaborative gains traction

Smart Assistive Technology CollaborativeAustralia’s award-winning Community Care Smart Assistive Technology Collaborative is gaining traction among community care service providers, researchers, developers and, more recently, consumers of services. [from Community Care Review]

The project is funded by the Queensland Government Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services as a free online platform that provides a space to collaborate, learn and access resources and expertise.

This space focusses on local, national and international community care practices and experiences with incorporating in service provision. We have intentionally ensured our focus expands beyond local experience to ensure participants are able to access leading edge and contemporary information from international projects, experiences and implementations. Read More …

Medical Alert Systems

Reviews.com recently published a review of The Best Medical Alert Systems, and they gave me permission to repost it here as long as I met their requirements.

Three out of our four final contenders shared the exact same technology. Clockwise from the top left: Acadian On Call, MobileHelp, Medical Guardian, Bay Alarm Medical.

Medical Alert Systems — Help at the push of a button

Nearly 90 percent of seniors say they prefer to live in their own homes, and most expect to stay there. It’s called “aging in place” and put simply: no assisted living facilities. Family members want to respect these wishes, but the risks are real. According to the National Council on Aging, one in three adults age 65 and older experience a fall each year, let alone other emergencies. The best medical alert systems address these risks with reliable devices that can connect seniors with help, keeping them safely independent — and giving family members one less thing to worry about. Our top pick, Bay Alarm Medical, goes even further with attentive, personable service. In an emergency, we’d feel comfortable with a loved one in the company’s hands. Read More …

Presidential Report on Independence Technology

Independence TechnologyIn an 80-page report issued this week, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), made several recommendations to address America’s aging population with independence technology. They include:

  • mHealth innovation,
  • remote patient monitoring,
  • telehealth expansion and reimbursement,
  • broadband access for seniors,
  • more sophisticated wheelchairs, and even
  • home designs for sustained independence.

What follows is a highlighted extract from the report’s Executive Summary. Read More …

Digital Health at CES 2016

Digital Health at CES

EDITOR:  The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the largest trade shows and conferences in the world, with well over 150,000 attendees, including more than 30,000 international attendees from 140 countries. Each January they come to Las Vegas, NV to see the latest tech products from over 3,000 exhibitors or showcase their own. Nowhere else on earth can you see and experience so much in such a short space of time. That’s why I love attending, but now I do it without the expense and hassle of traveling there.

For background, I’ve attended big technology shows like COMDEX & CES as an exhibitor, speaker or attendee for some 30 years, and while still at IBM I organized one of the first Hot Spots (now TechZones). It was for Home Networking just after I introduced IBM to the Connected Home concept (in 1994) and while I held leadership positions in some industry standards groups.

My CES coverage starts with an article by Jane Sarasohn-Kahn about what to expect, which first appeared in Huffington Post. It’s followed by links to Related Articles that you won’t want to miss if you’re a tech geek like me. Read More …

Healthcare Robots – a growing collection

Google"s Robot?With arguably the largest aging population relative to its total, Japan leads the world in the production of healthcare robots as a way to cope with the growing need for eldercare and shrinking numbers of working people left to give that care. It’s not surprising that many of the robots featured in this collection originate from Japan.

Below are dozens of robot images, followed by images representing 8 videos that you can watch by clicking on each image. The list of related articles will expand over time as we discover new and interesting articles on robots. Comment below if you find one you’d like to share. Read More …

The 10 Best Cities for Technology-Assisted Living

by Christin Camacho, PR & Content Manager, REDFIN, a next-gen real estate brokerage

The National Conference of State Legislatures and AARP Public Policy Institute report that nearly 90 percent of people over the age of 65 want to stay in their home for as long as possible. [See below for brief summary.] Fortunately, in most cases, they won’t have to move as they age. According to Seniorly, a service that helps people find senior care, the majority of seniors do NOT need to move into a nursing home. They simply need some care equivalent to what they would find in an assisted living community, which includes assistance with daily activities like meals, medication, housekeeping, bathing and transportation.

And these days, there’s an app for that. An elderly woman can take an Uber to her friend’s home, find someone to walk her dog through Rover.com, schedule her lawn to be mowed or her house to be cleaned through Porch, get groceries delivered through Instacart, and schedule a professional caregiver to assist with bathing, meal preparation and other daily living activities through CareLinx. Or, for those seniors who aren’t tech-savvy, friends and family can use these technology-based services to arrange care for them. Read More …

Make it Possible – about overcoming disabilities

Stephen Hawking

Click image for other quotes as Stephen Hawking turns 73.

I’m always inspired by pioneering tech ideas that help people overcome physical or mental disabilities, so the videos that follow caught my attention. They’re about EyeWriter and BrainWriter, which use eye movements and brainwaves to help people with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s Disease). ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causes loss of muscle control, including the ability to breathe, and thus leads to early death.

The famous theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, has helped to bring attention to the disease and what can be done with a severe disability by beating the odds and living past age 70.

Don Moir: ALS patient, husband, and father

In the video below, watch Don write a love letter to his wife and audibly say “I love you, Lorraine” for the first time in 15 years, thanks to a digital solution by the Not Impossible team, Speak Your Mind Foundation and HP’s #BendTheRules.


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Music as Medicine

I’ll be home for Christmas

Henry has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home, and is mostly unresponsive and depressed, but watch what happens when he’s introduced to music. The part of the brain that recognizes music is usually one of the last parts affected by Alzheimer’s disease; but not only does the music awaken that part; it improves Henry’s communication and memory too. He remembers the words AND the artist.

Having seen this reaction before, I became interested in the healing powers of music and met Sean Maher, an award-winning musician and music therapist at Intelligent Sleep who uses vibration, sound and binaural beats to help people entrain their brains to reduce stress, focus, or improve creativity. I also discovered Lisa’s article below and got permission to repost it.

Music as Medicine

Bad to the Bone

Click on image to hear George Thorogood’s classic, “Bad to the Bone” on YouTube.

by Lisa Suennen

It happens every time. I hear “Bad to the Bone” on the radio and suddenly all is right with the world. I love music and I have learned that if I choose the correct genre and tempo  I can improve a depressed state or calm a hyper one. I have song lists on my iPod called Cranky and Stressed, F the World, and Happiness, all designed around my various moods. Music can have a profound affect on my state of mind. I think this is true for most people, actually.

The therapeutic value of music has long been known to the medical world. Famed neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks used music to engage his patients (this was dramatized in the movie The Music Never Stops, where a brain-damaged patient is able to recall memories otherwise lost when he hears the favorite music of his youth). And I saw an article this week, courtesy of my BFF, which stated this:

Doctor playing the violin“One hundred years ago, Pennsylvanian surgeon Evan Kane penned a brief letter to JAMA in which he declared himself a rigorous proponent of the ‘benefic [sic] effects of the phonograph within the operating room.’ To Kane, it was an optimal means of ‘calming and distracting the patient from the horror of their situation.’ Of course this was before effective anesthesia so anything would have helped.” Read More …

Cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves

Google's Driverless Car

EDITOR: When seniors can no longer drive a car, they lose their independence and become dependent on others for the simplest things — shopping for groceries or Christmas gifts, getting a haircut, going the bank or doctor or the movies, and more. That can be devastating and even force them into institution care, ultimately shortening their lifespan. So it’s why I’m a fan of the autonomous, self-driving car, and Google, the company that’s so far leading the way. And it’s why I’m happy to republish this article by Zachary Shahan at FIX.com about cars for seniors who can’t drive themselves.

Hands-Free Driving: Google’s New Driverless Car

One of the biggest tech stories of the year is definitely the unveiling of Google’s driverless car. The general story is this: Google is manufacturing some completely self-driving cars – no steering wheels, accelerator pedals, or brake pedals. But the details are pretty fascinating, and even more interesting are the broad societal implications. Read More …

What Quadriplegics can do with an iPhone or iPad

EDITOR: 9 Surprising Things Quadriplegics can do with an iPhone or iPad, by Mauricio Meza, is republished here with permission. It shows how Tecla gives iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android access to people with spinal cord, brain, or muscular disorders or anyone else who can’t use a touch-screen, including quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis (MS), ALS, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, brain injury, and stroke.

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Top Home Tech for Seniors [INFOGRAPHIC]

Home Tech for Seniors and Caregivers infographic courtesy of Home Access Products.

With innovations in health care, medicine, and nutrition, it’s no surprise that Americans are getting older. By 2030, nearly 20% of Americans will be over 65– and nearly 90% of them want to stay in their own homes as they age.

As aging in place continues to rise, seniors are increasingly looking towards technology to stay safe and connected. From personal alert systems to cell phones and tablets, seniors are embracing technology and all of its benefits. Whether aging seniors are tech-savvy, or prefer simple ways of communicating at home, these products and services can assist seniors with safety, entertainment, health/wellness, communication, and assistance. Read More …

Personal Exoskeleton cleared by FDA

This revolutionary technology, which allows people with Spinal Cord Injury
to stand & walk, receives clearance for personal use in the U.S.

ReWalk PersonalExoskeleton leader ReWalk Robotics has announced that the FDA cleared the company’s ReWalk Personal System for use at home and in the community.

ReWalk is a wearable robotic exoskeleton that provides powered hip and knee motion to enable people with Spinal Cord Injuries to stand upright and walk. It’s the only exoskeleton with FDA clearance for personal use available in the United States.

Derek Herrera, a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a paraplegic trained on the ReWalk. He will be one of the first Americans to own the ReWalk and said, “I see this as a milestone for people in my same situation … to experience walking again, and all of the health benefits that come with ReWalking.”

The Marine Special Operations Command Foundation (MARSOC Foundation) will be donating the funds for Herrera’s ReWalk system. Herrera, who works for the Marine Special Operations Command, added, “It will be incredible for me to regain independence, to use the system to walk and stand on my own.”

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Can Fall Monitoring Technology Keep Elders Safe?

Falling DownBy Rein Tideiksaar Ph.D., PA-C

The most effective way for elders and/or their caregivers to address the issue of falling is to:

  • First, visit the doctor and find out why a loved one is at risk or why falls are occurring (remember that falls are not normal but may represent an underlying health condition requiring investigation).
  • Second, after fall risk factors and/or causes of falling have been identified, elders and their caregivers can address those risks by taking proper steps to avoid fallsRead More …

Are Canes and Walkers Safe?

Canes+Walkers

By Rein Tideiksaar Ph.D., PA-C

Walking aids (canes and walkers) are commonly used by elders. But are they safe? According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), falls involving walking aids  are responsible or an increasing number of serious injuries (broken hip and pelvic bones) and visits to the emergency room. Canes and walkers help elders to maintain their balance and mobility, yet at the same time they can also be a fall hazard. Seems counterintuitive doesn’t it?  There are several reasons for this inconsistency. Elders who use canes and walkers may be likely to fall because they are: Read More …

10 startups to bring digital health to seniors

By Stephanie Baum (original on MedCityNews.com)

LiftwareSeniors tend to be marginalized when it comes to digital health. Given the fact that AARP’s membership starts at 5o, its membership base spans a wide range of technical ability, so inevitably some will be left out or feel like they’ve been overlooked.  These 10 healthcare startups, which have made the finalist cut for AARP’s Innovation @ 50+ LivePitch, have taken different approaches to practical concerns such as how mobile health apps, services and tracking devices fit into the lives of their users. Among their solutions are apps for caretakers, sensors to track balance and urinary tract infections to catch costly problems early and telepsychology.

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Technology and the Senior Housing Industry

Is Technology Disrupting or Transforming the Senior Housing Industry?

Visiting GrandmaThis is the question posed by Joseph F Coughlin, Director of the MIT AgeLab, in his article, which is reproduced below with his permission.

The disruptive demographics of an aging society offers a growth opportunity for the senior housing industry. However, technology is also presenting new ways to enable older adults to stay in their own homes rather than move into senior housing options. Yet many of these same technologies, creatively applied, may improve the attractiveness and operational efficiency of senior housing. So is technology a threat or an opportunity for the senior housing industry? The answer is – yes. Read More …