My mom is 75 and lives alone. Since I can’t always be there and COVID has prevented her from getting out much, are there any new tech-based solutions to keep her engaged, comfortable, and independent at home?
Tech-curious in Tacoma
Dear Tech-curious in Tacoma:
Thanks for your timely question! The Consumer Electronics Show is giving us a good glimpse of what’s coming in 2022. With 27% of older adults over 60 in the U.S. living alone, technology has been a lifeline for many during the pandemic, fostering and maintaining social ties, connecting them with their community, keeping them healthy and active, and allowing them to live comfortably at home!
Here are some highlights:
COVID has isolated people like never before, especially seniors.
AARP’s Innovation Labs featured these startups at CES to help older adults stay engaged:
Gameboard combines tabletop and digital games in one console. The technology mimics how you use your hands in real-life – you move physical game pieces, but on a digital board. Family members can choose from hundreds of games for virtual play, including classics like Chess, Poker, Dominoes, and Yahtzee.
Beeyonder is a marketplace for live, virtual expert-led tours around the world. It gives those with circumstances that prevent them from traveling – either cost or physical frailty – access to virtual solo or group travel experiences in over 50 countries, without having to leave the comforts of home.
Kinoo is a video chat app that includes interactive games and activities for grandparents and their grandkids to play and learn together. Each subscription comes with a Kinoo toy wand for kids that works with the app and uses augmented reality and interpretive motion to enhance the experience.
Being cooped up during the pandemic has made it easier than ever to fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some products that encourage healthier lifestyle habits and overall well-being:
Garmin debuted two stylish new smart watches at CES, the Venu 2 Plus and Vivomove Sport, giving the Apple and Galaxy smart watches some solid competition. Along with a fitness tracker and GPS, The Venu 2 makes & takes calls, offers voice assistant support via a Bluetooth connection to a cell phone’s voice assistant, and has an impressive battery life of up to nine days. The entry-level Vivomove Sport tracks blood oxygen level, sleep, exercises, heart rate, works with a cell phone’s GPS and can send emergency alerts to contacts with a battery that lasts up to four days.
AARP’s Innovation Labs highlighted two wellness applications:
Mighty Health, a personal fitness coach app targeted to people 50+, offers users live coaching and content focused on nutrition, preventative checkups, and workouts. Family members can tune in to celebrate their loved ones’ achievements – all for a monthly membership fee.
Ompractice allows users to take live yoga or meditation classes with an instructor via two-way video for as little as $5 per class or opt for monthly memberships to get unlimited classes.
Aging In Place
Assistive technology innovations got a lot of buzz at CES. With a majority of seniors preferring to stay in their homes as they age, these inventive products offer the ability to maintain independence:
Labrador System’s assistive robot Retriever is capable of carrying up to 25 lbs. and can be voice-controlled through Alexa – helping with household tasks when pain or health conditions prevent bending and lifting. Retriever’s like an extra set of hands that can transport clean laundry to the bedroom, grocery deliveries to the kitchen, or meals to the dining room.
MyEye Pro from Orcam is a wearable camera that can attach to any pair of glasses, helping people with low vision read text and identify objects and faces, telling the wearer what it sees through a speaker or paired Bluetooth headphones. Touch or voice-controlled, it also has a “smart reader” feature to help users quickly find info on a page such as a phone number, bill total, or a specific word.