Exploring 'Geron-Technology'

Dennis Faas's picture

As the population gets older, new applications begin to reflect that shift.  Many are assistive devices to help older persons cope with their aging; in fact, there is such a plethora of new technology applications that it deserves a category of its own: call it: "geron-technology".

It's no surprise this type of technology is emerging. The market is growing. The CDC estimates that the number of persons older than 65 will increase from 35 million in the year 2000 to more than 70 million by 2030. In Europe by 2030, the largest single age group will be over age 65 and the average age is expected to be 50.

What happens when we grow old? Not least is that our eyesight diminishes, our mobility is reduced, our hearing decreases, and our dexterity becomes impaired. This is to say nothing of the issues that arise from obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health problems.

And how does technology deal with these? Two of the newer innovations to focus on aging issues include:

SenseView Duo. A portable magnifying device for those that have their vision impaired by macular degeneration or diabetes. The device can be waved over anything from a document to a grocery shelf to enhance and magnify the image for reading. (Source: nytimes.com)

Remoted monitoring. A variety of new, Internet-enabled tools are being introduced to allow children and caregivers of elderly persons to be monitored around the clock. For as littles a $50 a month, remote monitors can sense motion in a senior's home, ensure that medications are taken, and even check blood pressure! Alerts can also be triggered to notify family or medical authorities if there are problems. (Source: nytimes.com)

But there are a wide variety of other geron-technology applications that have already found their way into the market. These include remote FM/Bluetooth devices, wireless microphones that broadcast directly to a senior's hearing aids, amplified and equalizing telephones (with flashers), hearing aid battery dispensers, door openers, automated medication dispensers, talking thermometers, electronic "readers", talking watches, and re-engineered writing instruments (for arthritic individuals). (Source: cbsnews.com)

The demand for more geron-technology is also encouraging the "consumer-ization" of medical diagnostic devices. Already there is an increase in the innovation and competition of finger stick devices (for diabetic blood tests), do-it-yourself blood test equipment, and home blood pressure measurement devices. What's clear is that geron-technology is here to stay. We can expect that ideas for new applications will be emerging every day. Why, just last week, prompted by new advertising by Nintendo, this writer's 85-year-old mother-in-law was the first to go down to Best Buy and see if she could buy a Wii.

She thinks it just might be a good way to get some exercise.  I say it's technology trying to keep up with the elderly.

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