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Age-tech for senior citizens

September 6, 2023

Age-tech, or the use of technology to improve healthcare for seniors, is becoming essential for an elderly-friendly society in India. Kanishka Acharya, founder and CEO of age-tech brand Welldercare, explains how technology can revolutionise healthcare for senior citizens.

The need for age-tech: Senior citizens like a familiar place, a comfort zone. The biggest opportunity for age-tech is to fill the gaps that traditional care cannot address. For starters, a holistic insight into their health is needed, but this is easier said than done—nobody wants to be checked five times a day for blood pressure or sugar, and so on. It psychologically puts senior citizens in a spot. If we could develop technologies that can monitor vitals, keep a tab on their health parameters and flag anomalies before they become symptomatic, it could go a long way in building a preventive healthcare eco-space, something so essential for the ageing demographic in our country.

Seniors need predictive healthcare: As technology evolves and AI algorithms are trained, we will graduate to a predictive paradigm from a preventive one. It means algorithms will be able to forecast what a person is most susceptible to. For example, Google and MIT have algorithms that can predict dementia pretty much early. Dementia is usually detected after it has taken 70 per cent of its course. Thereafter, one can only manage it. But if detected early, one can reverse possible damage. One of the key indicators of early dementia is gait—how you sit, walk and move. Not the human eye but technology can detect it. So, if we could build systems that can monitor people non-intrusively, then it could hugely benefit seniors.

Age-tech must be totally non-intrusive:
 It is a paradox when you are looking at technology tailored for an ageing population because this segment is the slowest adopter of new technology. Smart watches keep track of vitals but forget the seniors, even younger people don’t go to sleep wearing them. So, the way age-tech needs to evolve is to be totally non-intrusive and requiring zero compliance from the user. For example, falls are a huge challenge in ageing as they can trigger a lot of health problems. Falls often occur behind closed doors. The challenge is whether we detect a fall without wearable technology or human supervision. That would be a game changer.

Age-tech can reduce load on hospitals: By building sophisticated remote patient monitoring systems, people may not have to visit hospitals frequently. Physical consultations aren’t required as often unless a procedure has to be done. They happen today because we don’t have a well-developed technology system that can give doctors the right information to monitor patients remotely after a procedure. Technology can reduce the load capacity on healthcare systems and also improve patients’ lives.

Source: India Today

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