Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
This post is sponsored. The views and belief in wearable medical technology are sponsored by our fine selves and direct experience with older adults and loved ones who use such alerts.
In 1946 Dick Tracy got his wearable two-way radio watch. Hmm, same year that the first batch of baby boomers was born. Coincidence or great timing (get it)? Since then, wearable technology has become a reality for millions of people who want quick access to health information or assistance. Think of the number of times James Bond’s life has been saved thanks to his futuristic tools.
Well, the future of wearable medical technology is now. And saving lives — yours, your parents, other loved ones, perhaps? — is one of the many benefits of such devices. We monitor our pulse rates, oxygen levels, safety, location, air quality, sleep, steps taken, and so much more. Something as simple as medical alerts can offer independence, peace of mind, and life-saving action. (Click that link to see a review of medical alerts). And yes, we even use our devices for two-way communication, just like Dick Tracy. Don’t believe us? We did two-way time travel two years ago when we wrote about e-textiles as a future health trend. Check it out — over and out.
A Global Positioning System can be incredibly accurate when determining a person’s location anywhere on the planet. This technology could allow medics to find a person if he or she is unconscious or unable to communicate. This kind of technology can also help locate someone lost in the wilderness while monitoring his or her physical condition.
2. Detect Falls Even From Afar
Help, we’ve fallen, but we can get help to get up! By monitoring the G-force of a pendant or other wearable item, medical professionals can detect immediately if someone has suffered a fall. With devices such as medical alerts, this technology could be lifesaving if the person who falls goes unconscious or gets injured. The difference between help arriving in minutes versus hours could mean the difference between life and death; eventual recovery and the beginning of the end.
3. Monitor for Smoke and Fire
Wearable technology that monitors for smoke and fire can save a person’s life regardless of location. As long as the sensor is able to capture samples of the surrounding atmosphere, the risks of smoke inhalation and other complications can be greatly reduced. Imagine how glad you would be to know your monitor can signal for assistance even if, for example, your parents were unconscious or unable to call out.
Who wants a device that resists water better than the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz? If you invest in medical technology products, check whether the device is waterproof or at least water resistant. For the sake of discussion, let’s refer to the wearer as “your parents.” What if something happens while your mom is swimming, bathing, or showering? You want to be sure you can depend on the device in all environments.
5. Share Vitals and Vital Info via Apps
Some technologies are able to use app connectivity to gather information. Such tools can render data in a more readily accessible platform providing charts and graphs and offering emergency personnel vital statistics. Envision an EMT being able to take bio readings directly from your mom’s wearable medical device to determine the correct course of treatment whether she is alert or unconscious.
6. Connect to Your Physician
You can also use the monitoring capability of medical technology to keep a designated physician apprised of any change in your parents’ physical condition even from a distance. Granted, you have a trade-off between privacy and safety. When safety is the bigger concern, you may want a doctor to know about deviations in your loved one’s physical habits or unique physiology.
7. Communicate Two-Way
Some, but not all medical devices offer two-way communication. Decide whether you want the ability to directly communicate with service providers. Let’s say your dad is rendered incapable of using his hands or is otherwise unable to make a phone call. A two-way device can still allow for communication from the service provider to your dad as he awaits assistance.
Innovation in this field is only accelerating. And it’s fairly exhilarating! We have the opportunity to take a more active, real time role helping loved ones stay safe and well. Who knows what will be available by the time we baby boomers buy our own wearable medical tech devices! We’ll be ready to bond, James Bond with something stylish, super futuristic, and life saving!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Recently Alexandra and I served as hosts for the AARP’s Care4YouToo Contest, designed to help caregivers focus on their own health and fitness. Participants from the AARP caregiving community revealed a lot about winning and losing! On the losing side — they reported losing weight and bad habits. On the winning side — not only did 7 people win prizes, but also participants exhibited winning behaviors that helped them become healthier and happier.
Caregivers have a particularly challenging task taking care of their own health. (More on this subject with solutions at this post on Caregiving and Exercise. Click to read.) Yet, as this contest revealed, they do find ways to help themselves as they help others.
As many baby boomers already know, caregiving itself is so overwhelming that tackling huge, unspecified goals such as “getting fit,” or “”eating better” are doomed as they become one more big item on the neverending “to do” list. Contest participants reported that small changes led to success. Some of their small steps?
As one caregiver in the AARP caregiving community pointedly said: “even the smallest changes or the smallest actions done repeatedly will, over time, make measurable progress. I am applying this to everything that is ‘out of control’, the mail, magazines, newspapers, clippings, laundry, grocery shopping, yardwork, housework, demands on my time.”
Keep in mind that caregivers are among the most time pressed, life stressed, energy depressed group. (Oooh, do you like what I did with that sentence?) Nevertheless they were able to find and celebrate small successes. Being aware of progress, no matter how minor, inspired them to to continue with their efforts.. When the going got tough, the tough got going – with self-praise, a plan, a refocus on what they had managed to achieve. So focus on what you have accomplished, rather than on how far you still have to go or temporary setbacks.
Bad news often serves as a catalyst for change. Ideally you won’t have to face adversity to be inspired to make behavior changes for the better, as the following people reported.
Those who made positive and permanent changes tended to share their successes, challenges, and goals. They reached out for support when they needed it. They congratulated others who overcame pitfalls or reached milestones. They listed their own achievements.
Whether your support group involves two friends, your entire family, a bunch of work buddies, online strangers, a Facebook group (such as the ones we belong to on Facebook. Email us or add a comment if you want us to invite you into any of our online midlife women communities), or a structured event such as the AARP Care4TouToo contest, your odds of succeeding improve when you progress with others.
To paraphrase one of the winners of the AARP Care4YouToo contest, these strategies may not be easy, but they are simple. You CAN do it! Ask your community and they’ll tell you.
Read this post for more strategies on how to improve your health and lose weight when you have heavy demands on your time, emotions, energy, and resources.
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