It’s hardly necessary to say that IoT tools are being widely applied today in many industries and business sectors. Numerous solutions, from fitness apps to enterprise management systems, are enriched with features provided by IoT devices, or systems of smart sensors. But in this article, we’ll focus on another extremely important but less discussed sphere where the Internet of Things is of great value. We are talking about solutions for the social sector and, more precisely, IoT for seniors.
IoT for elderly care is one of the most promising developments for ensuring secure independent living for seniors. The value of such solutions shouldn’t be underestimated, not only for seniors but also for families who worry about them but don’t have the ability to stay with them 24/7
IoT for seniors and other IoT solutions: Market overview
The global IoT market volume hit $384.70 billion in 2021. It is expected that market size will reach $478.36 billion in 2022 and $2,465.26 billion in 2029. A projected CAGR for the period from 2022 to 2029 is 26.4%.
North America IoT market size was the fastest-growing region in 2021.
Many solutions from the category of IoT elder care are related to medical care and supporting health and wellbeing. These solutions represent part of the Internet of Medical Things segment. (In a previously published article, we explain the capacities and benefits of IoMT. We suggest reading it if you are interested in learning more.)
This category also demonstrates stable growth. The volume of the IoMT market is expected to reach over $158 billion in 2022. Solutions targeted toward older people help increase the accuracy of diagnoses, improve remote monitoring of chronic diseases, enhance the patient experience and decrease operational costs for healthcare institutions.
As for seniors themselves, various surveys show that they’re actively using smartphones and other devices these days. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is one factor that has spurred adoption of smart solutions among elderly people.
According to studies conducted by the Pew Research Center, 92% of people in the US aged 65 and older own a mobile phone, and of those, 61% are smartphones. These figures clearly indicate that mobile software solutions, including IoT apps, focused on seniors’ needs can be a very promising segment
Use cases of IoT for senior citizens
At the moment we can define three main types of solutions that could be included in the category of IoT for senior citizens, based on the tasks they perform.
Security and safety for seniors. Many seniors live alone, without adult children close enough to help when needed. Though nothing can guarantee 100% safety, systems of connected smart devices can greatly enhance it.
Some IoT solutions are aimed at ensuring safety in living spaces. IoT devices can monitor temperature, air quality, and humidity in seniors’ apartments and flats and notify family members if a dangerous change is observed.
Other smart home solutions can be utilized in elderly care. For example, there are smart devices (with or without cameras) that can control door and window openings as well as detect unauthorized entries and movements and send notifications to an authority or security company. Employing such solutions can protect not only seniors but also their properties.
Health state monitoring. Health is one of the most important aspects to focus on when speaking of solutions for the elderly. According to various studies, nearly 80% of elderly people have chronic diseases that require regular monitoring. Today there are many devices such as glucose meters and blood pressure monitors that help to track vital parameters.
Results from these smart devices are sent into the cloud, where they can be collected by a healthcare organization. This can help doctors detect any problems and analyze and respond to them in a timely and appropriate way. What’s more, it is possible to have the software automatically notify a medical worker if some parameter has reached a dangerous value.
A range of IoT solutions for older patients is available to deal with various diseases:
- Diabetes. These solutions are powered by connected blood sugar monitors. If a patient’s blood sugar level is low, doctors get an emergency alert.
- Arthritis. There are also smart devices that facilitate many tasks for seniors who experience joint pain and difficulties with movement. For example, there are smart lighting systems, smart door locks, etc. Other solutions are aimed at easing pain, for instance by using wearable devices that stimulate nerves.
- Heart diseases. Special wearables, such as heart rate monitors, can allow for continuous monitoring while seniors move about and carry on their normal lives.
- Parkinson's disease. For doctors, it is important to know how the severity of patients’ symptoms changes during the day. Special IoT sensors can collect data about symptoms and send them to the cloud.
- Special needs. There is also a group of solutions designed for people with vision or hearing impairments. Notable among these products are apps powered by smart devices that help translate text into Braille or solutions that decrease background noise and direct wanted sound into the ear canal.
One more issue many adults over 65% suffer from is falls. Falls may be caused by a variety of issues, including neurological disorders, problems with vision, cognition, etc. It may happen that after a fall, a person is not able to call for help. However, modern IoT solutions powered by sensors that can be placed in smart bracelets, belts, shoes, and watches can monitor the wearer’s location, detect falls and send a notification to an organization or individual.
Some solutions not only help people deal with the consequences of falls but also prevent falls in the first place. They analyze movement patterns, track location, and notify a person that there is a risk of a fall.
These solutions can be enriched with motion sensors that detect the wearer’s movements; if no movement is detected over a set time, an alert is sent out so that timely medical aid can be provided.
Everyday tasks. Smart devices can change the way the elderly perform many tasks, from communication with medical staff and families to shopping. For example, thanks to smart speakers, seniors don’t even need to switch on their computers or open apps when they want to order groceries or something else.
IoT devices for elderly care
As you can see, the range of elderly care IoT solutions is rather wide and, more importantly, is continuously expanding as more companies bring innovative ideas to market.
The growth of the market is possible thanks to the development of software products in tandem with advanced devices, including wearables, aimed at solving many tasks. Here are some of the most widely applied devices for IoT elder care:
- Smart home devices (smart blinds, fridges, lighting, thermostats, etc.)
- Medical connected devices (glucose meters, blood pressure monitors, pill dispensers, oximeters)
- Wearables (smartwatch or bracelets)
- Smart speakers
- Cameras (with microphones and without)
- Sensors (motion sensors, biometric sensors, etc.)
If you have an idea for an IoT solution for seniors and are looking for a reliable software partner, we at Cogniteq are always happy to provide you with the necessary assistance. With rich expertise in IoT development and a deep understanding of the requirements for modern medical software, we will build a product that is not only feature-rich but also 100% user-friendly. Working on our solutions, we always bear in mind the needs of end-users.
If you have questions or are ready to discuss possible formats for cooperating with us on your project, please fill in the form on our website and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.