Senior living: How 5G can make for healthier homes – Verizon Communications
Emerging tech, powered by 5G, creates the potential for new types of freedom: Investors could take control of their money, chefs could reinvent the food industry and public transit advocates could set up communities with the tools they need for success.
Freedom is always a noble goal. But what happens when it comes with inherent risks?
Take aging in place. Seniors can live independently, but the at-home risks are real: failure to adhere to a schedule for lifesaving medication, experiencing minor to severe falls and living with social isolation are all common problems among aging populations.
These experiences negatively impact not only seniors, but also their families, caregivers and friends. And they’re affecting more of us every day. Currently, 90% of Americans over the age of 50 desire to age in place. That’s a lot of people, considering 54.1 million Americans—16% of the U.S. population—are already over the age of 65.
But as with finance, the restaurant industry and public transit, 5G could help foster and expand freedom where it matters most: at home. Smart homes, it turns out, could be excellent health improvement tools, potentially aiding seniors, caregivers and physicians.
Real-time data: Peace of mind and privacy
One of the biggest challenges of aging in place is receiving consistent, affordable care. Unfortunately, at-home care is often prohibitively expensive, averaging more than $4,000 a month per person.
5G smart-home devices could cut down on costs while ensuring you or your loved ones are keeping track of regular routines. SOVRINTI, a prelaunch startup, is designing a network of easy-to-install, connected devices that effectively measure daily activity in real time. These devices—which can simply be placed in drawers, on doors and even on a person—can show consistent motion and habits, including sleeping and meal preparation.
The sensors can also pick up on an interruption or a change in normal patterns—such as more frequent bathroom trips, meals at odd hours or lack of movement during peak activity times—and signal caregivers. This type of alert system demands that real-time data flows remain uninterrupted, 24/7.
“5G’s high bandwidth and low latency enables higher computing power,” says John Fitch, co-founder of SOVRINTI. “That allows for real-time monitoring.” 5G also removes 3- or 4-foot spatial resolution limitations, so residents could move throughout their homes and yards without losing connection.
Expanding the capability and range of Sovrinti’s data-collecting devices is where 5G can demonstrate its power. Its potential for increased bandwidth and higher download speeds can provide the opportunity to connect a large number of devices that can still operate quickly.
Connection to care
Managing medications is a high-stakes juggling act. Seniors need to get the right information from doctors, receive the right prescriptions at the right time and take the appropriate dosages. This is a complex, time-intensive process. But strong connections can simplify all these steps with an all-in-one solution.
The Ōmcare Home Health Hub® is a portable device that dispenses medication and comes equipped with a video chat function so seniors can connect to care providers at their convenience. In homes with strong broadband connections, they can use video-based consultation through a simple interface that enables them to talk with medical staff, friends, family and other caregivers. This also permits smart pill dispensers to reduce the guesswork from taking medications regularly or communicating important information.
Social connection: The freedom to dream