New high-tech products, ranging from devices that predict falls to those that provide computer-generated reminders, are making it safer and easier for more people to remain independent as they grow older. Here are some of the notable new tech devices that can help seniors continue to live safely in their homes and communities, including some that are not yet available but will be soon…

Virtual Caregiving

These days, living alone doesn’t have to mean there’s no one around to help. A number of new tech products can provide some of the oversight and support traditionally supplied by a caregiver when no one else is around—and they can do so without the loss of privacy that comes with an in-home caregiver. Examples…

CarePredict Tempo is a behavior-monitoring device that is worn like a wristwatch, but it uses sophisticated pattern-recognition technology to identify the wearer’s ­nascent health issues before they escalate. The system closely monitors the person’s movements inside the home—walking speed, the amount of time spent in bed or in the bathroom and the amount of time spent eating, for example—then identifies changes to these patterns that could potentially presage a developing health or fitness concern. When the device spots a troubling change, it notifies loved ones via text and/or e-mail, often before the situation becomes dire. According to the company, a pilot study conducted in assisted-living facilities reduced falls by 25% by identifying the early stages of movement and balance problems. CarePredict Tempo costs $499 and $79/month for monitoring services. 

LifePod from LifePod Solutions, Inc., is comparable to “virtual assistants” Alexa and Siri, but it’s designed specifically to provide support to people of advancing age. LifePod can be programmed to ask its user how he/she is feeling at predetermined intervals, and it reports appropriate replies to loved ones via text message. Caregivers (or seniors themselves) can ask LifePod to provide reminders, such as “It’s 10:00—did you take your morning pills?” or “It’s your grandson Tommy’s birthday—don’t forget to call him.” Like other smart speakers, it also can respond to verbal requests to play music, read ­audiobooks, check the weather and more. $49/month or $432 for one year.

Fall Detection

Each year, around 25% of people 65 and older suffer falls. Wearable devices that can summon assistance in these situations have been around for decades, but the latest generation of fall-detection tech even can identify a fall and call for help on its own when the wearer is ­unconscious. Among the options…

Apple Watch Series 5 can detect that its wearer has fallen and notify a ­preselected emergency contact if that wearer is unresponsive. Its Emergency SOS feature lets users quickly and easily call 911 and/or notifies emergency contacts via text message when the wearer requires help in other situations. This watch, which is designed to work in conjunction with an Apple iPhone, can monitor heart rate—it even generates electrocardiograms for viewing the results on the watch itself—and serves as an activity and sleep tracker. Non–health-related functions include streaming music, providing maps and directions and making and receiving phone calls and texts. Its price starts at $399 (or $499 for a version that has built-in cellular capabilities so that it can function when the user’s iPhone is not nearby).

MyNotifi is a fall-detection device that can be worn either as a wristband or with a belt clip. Like the Apple Watch, MyNotifi sends a text to preselected emergency contacts when it detects a fall (unless the wearer dismisses the fall as a false alarm)—but it does not include the other health-monitoring features of the Apple Watch. It costs $179 for a version that works in conjunction with your smartphone…$199 for a version that does not require a smartphone. MyNotifi is compatible with iOS and Android. 

Medication Management

MedMinder Pharmacy ships prefilled, presorted weekly pill trays to patients, so they don’t need to sort out pills on their own…and so they never have to worry, Did I remember to take my pills this morning? The prefilled disposable trays are placed in the company’s automated pill dispenser—when it’s time to take medication a light flashes in the compartment containing the appropriate pills. If pills are not taken on schedule, the device beeps. If that doesn’t work, the patient and/or his/her loved ones receive an alert via phone, text or e-mail. ­MedMinder Pharmacy does not charge extra for this pill-sorting service. It accepts most insurance and Medicare Part D plans, and your co-pays typically are the same as they would be at a pharmacy. There is a monthly fee for the high-tech pill dispenser—prices start at $39.99 per month—but if you want to avoid the added cost, presorted “weekly pill packs” that are designed to be used on their own, without the dispenser, also are available at no additional charge.

Hearing Assistance

Oticon Opn and Opn S hearing aids also serve as wireless Bluetooth headsets for making and receiving smartphone calls when paired with an accessory called ­ConnectClip. This accessory clips to the hearing aid wearer’s clothing and includes a microphone so that its user can be heard clearly by callers. It works with both Apple and Android smartphones. ConnectClip also can be used to stream music and other audio ­directly to these Oticon hearing aids…and it can be used as a remote microphone—place ConnectClip ­directly in front of the person you are speaking with to hear him better in a noisy environment. ConnectClip tends to sell for around $400, while Opn and Opn S hearing aids generally cost $2,000 or more per ear from an audiologist. (The Opn S is the latest generation of the Opn and fares somewhat better in tests of speech understanding.)

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