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How Health Technology Brings Hope for Aging Parents, Loved Ones, and Those with Dementia

Though it is true we don’t have every choice in life, we do have choices. Humans the world over share the same 3 wishes for those they care about. To be content. To have choices. And to experience a quality of life.

Amazingly, humans the world over also share the same 3 key regrets. That we didn’t reach out. That we weren’t bold enough. That we gave up on something that mattered.

This is particularly true for our families and parents as they get older. It's not an obligation, it's everything.

  • 12% of the population is 65yrs+

  • 1 in 4 households lives alone

  • 1 in 4 has a chronic health condition

  • Every 3.2 seconds, a new dementia diagnosis

Statistically, the biggest concerns for people as they age are the ability to stay home, manage a health condition, and manage the costs of healthcare.

But there's a lot to look forward to. 50% of health challenges are 100% preventable, we're living longer and more independently, the amazing work of health professionals, and the mindblowing pace of health tech to 10x what's possible at home.

This article is not about technology alone, but rather the hope it gives us that there might be small, important, or extraordinary human things it enables us to do.

So whether it's for you, in the early stages of an age-related concern or dementia diagnosis, whether it's for your parents getting older or living alone, or whether you just want to be proactive and up to date - by weaving together care, people and technology - there are a lot of new possibilities.

The technology highlighted here supports the direction of emerging research, that quality of life, physical health, and happiness are all uplifted by being home, being connected to others, having a purpose, and with the benefits of music and mindfulness.

In this article, we cover:

This article is a summary of the new health tech "Guide to Getting older, Living Alone and Dementia". You can download the free 100-page visual guide (pdf), or visit the interactive collection of top health-related technology products. The guide is independent and has been reviewed by professionals in medicine, psychology, and technology.

1. Health, Home & Assistive Technology

(i) Staying Healthy

Technology gives us the opportunity to track health measures, store and share them, and review them over time to detect trends. Often we don't notice changes as they happen, or remember to share them. Most of the time, earlier detection of conditions or their deterioration means better outcomes.

These devices can be used by you, your family, or visiting carers. You can set alerts and notifications, record trends, share with your doctor, and use them to change behaviors and support decisions, such as motivating steps that reduce risk factors, or knowing for example if blood pressure or temperature is high, or blood oxygen is low, visit a health specialist or hospital.

Think about what your concern or goal is, see what is available such as those below, and then make a plan to, for example, test each evening or week, share with your doctor, improve your levels and celebrate the progress, or set alerts for your family if you want them to know what's happening.

See this table for what health technology can help you measure and share.

For specific product suggestions, see the interactive collection, or download the Complete Guide (PDF).

Products We Like

General Health

Blood Oxygen

Sleep & Breathing


Blood Sugar

(ii). Being Closer, Loneliness and Isolation

Being connected to those around us is a basic human need, and one core to overall well-being. As we get older, it may be that family gets busy with their own kids or move away, you go out a bit less, or you lose someone close. Other reasons for losing touch include reduced hearing in social settings, fatigue, or finding it harder to drive or travel. Studies indicate that reducing social isolation can have a positive and quantifiable impact on physical health and dementia.

Technology will never replace being together in person. It does give us an extraordinary chance to talk, and see each other in color and live, with amplified sound, facial expressions, and shared news of the day. (See related article 9 New Ways to Reduce Loneliness for Seniors & Busy Families)

Whether this is of benefit to you, your grown kids, grandchildren, or friends, connecting across generations is a powerful way to improve relationships and expand social circles, leading to physical and mental health benefits.

For specific product suggestions, see the interactive collection, or download the Complete Guide (PDF).

Products We Like


Home Hubs & Voice Assistants

Photos & Memories

(iii). Routines & Reminders

It's easy to lose track of the date and keep up with the news when you don't go to work every day.

"I feel much more confident, hearing the date, news, and my schedule whenever I ask. My family feels I'm on top of my appointments and bills due and I'm the first to call for a family birthday or to wish them luck with an event. We also now have some good conversations on current affairs because I'm up with that."

For specific product suggestions, see the interactive collection, or download the Complete Guide (PDF).

Products We Like

For News, Day, Date & Time & Reminders

Medication Dispensers

(iv). Getting Help or Being Found

Sometimes, the concern that you or someone will become lost, wander or fall, is reason enough for higher levels of care and moving away from home, to be pursued.

36m people over 60 are hospitalised by falls every year (Source WHO), and data shows 1 in 4 older adults will fall.

"It does cross my mind, what happens if I have a fall and need help, or something happens with my health. It's all very well to want privacy and independence, but privacy is the last thing I'll want if nobody can help me when I need it."

There are options for pendants, watches, bracelets, or tags that locate, sos alarms that can be triggered to talk through or send a map location, and sensors that detect movement falls or lack of movement.

For specific product suggestions, see the interactive collection, or download the Complete Guide (PDF).

Products We Like

Personal Alarms and SOS

Location Tracking Devices

Fall detection, movement or lack of movement

Above: Devices can have multiple features, such as this view of the Apple Watch that combine health monitoring, location, fall detection, and SOS in one device

(v). Home Safer, Easier, and Longer

Being in our own home is something most of us want to do for as long as possible ie. to age in place. We're happy there. It's safe and familiar and we want that freedom.

Whether you or a partner are well and proactive, living alone and unwell, or just have more help coming in - homes can be made more secure, easier to manage, and bring the support of others closer.

Thins you can do include:

  • See who's at the gate or door from anywhere

  • Let a carer or a neighbor check in remotely

  • Have the smoke or carbon monoxide alert you and your family

  • Turn on lights and appliances with just your voice

  • Get help eating, and dressing. Show your kids you're ahead of the game - and that there's no need to be worried when you're home alone.

For specific product suggestions, see the interactive collection, or download the Complete Guide (PDF).

Products We Like

Indoor & Outdoor Cameras

Smart door locks and video doorbells

Sensors for fire, water, smoke or air quality

Controlling or automating home appliances

Eating & Dressing

(vi). Going Out

Belonging to a local community brings joy to everyone. Adding to that, the independence of being able to go out and help and visit others, get some exercise, or do your grocery shopping helps maintain connection, mobility, and independence.

You might be looking for more fun ways to get around since you have the time, maybe you're less up for walking several blocks unaided, or perhaps you aren't sure you want to be on the road in a car.

There are some good choices for keeping that community connection and getting out and about and minimizing risk or dependence on others. Sometimes if one of you is doing well, these products can allow the other partner to accompany them instead of both staying in.

Products to consider depending on your need, encompass walking frames and scooters, fat-tired trikes and e-bikes, or wheelchairs with passenger seats.

For specific product suggestions, see the interactive collection, or download the Complete Guide (PDF).

Products We Like

It's probably best to look locally for devices that suit you best, since you may want to try it first, get advice in person, and due to the size or shipping.

Examples to consider include lightweight travel scooters (eg Atto and Travelscoot), nicely designed walking frames and rollators with accessories (like Rollz), or seniors' fat-tired trikes and electric trikes. Services like Uber and Lyft can also be summoned from voice assistants, for times when you'd like a ride somewhere and need a service to pick you up. Friends and family you authorize can track your journey.

(See list)

(vii). Being Mindful & Engaged

Ideally, we all choose how to spend our time, what new things interest us, and do what makes us happy.

Physical and emotional health are closely connected to overall health and quality of life. There are direct health benefits from being calm and mindful, keeping our brains active and solving problems, and being exposed to music, play and meaningful projects, and community connections.

These can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and agitation. In a recent survey, nearly half of the seniors (46%) said they plan on working part-time or picking up a side job during their retirement, despite nearly 47% of those not having a mortgage.

Devices that can help, include access to Music and Entertainment, Apps for being Relaxed and Mindful, devices enabling Productivity, learning or pursuing interests online, and emerging and immersive new experiences such as virtual reality travel and home personal robots.

For specific product suggestions, see the interactive collection, or download the Complete Guide (PDF).

Products We Like

Computer Tablets to access and engage with communities and interests.

Good examples include Apple iPad, Lumin, Grandpad or any tablet and stand that can be set up for ease of use with the right curated content.

(See list)

Music & Entertainment

Relaxed and Mindful

Above: Devices can have multiple features, such as how a voice assistant/home hub can be utilized.

Above: See the example table of Apps and Services available for entertainment and engagement

(viii) Specifically relating to Dementia by Room

Every 3.2 seconds, one of us, somewhere in the world, is diagnosed with dementia [1]. In the US, the average age of a person living with the condition is 49 years. There was a 200% increase in cases aged 30-64 between 2013-2017.

Maybe the diagnosis has been given to you. Or maybe to someone you love. The challenges are undeniable. And so there's a need to do, or use, whatever brings those with dementia and their families joy, quality of life, safety, independence, human connection, or choice.

For the most part, those diagnosed early will have periods of clarity, carry out responsibilities, and may live somewhat independently through the early and mid stages, and with the help of family or friends.

Technology has rapidly progressed to give us extraordinary options to prolong independence, including those that address many of the early-stage symptoms, such as communicating, remembering appointments and bills, keeping safe at home, and staying healthy.

The above products can be considered in managing health and independence as best as possible with dementia, however here's a visual on how some families place health, home, and assistive technology in various contexts around the home and loved one.


For further description, see the Complete Guide (PDF)


Inspiring Stories

When it comes to our individual lives, needs, and circumstances - and technology, there is no silver bullet. But there are remarkable new choices, and many hopeful and inspiring stories like those below.

I have no choice about having Parkinson's. I have nothing but choices about how I respond to it. (Michael J Fox)
Sometimes I inspire the people I look after. Mostly they inspire me. (Anon)

Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with early-onset Dementia in 2014 and now spreads awareness about it across the world. However hard it may be, Mitchell says, families should enable people with Dementia to stay independent as long as possible. “It gives us the feeling that we can achieve something because Dementia strips away so much from us.” “So often when people hear the word dementia, they go into a state of depression, believing it to be the end. And that’s what happened to me because nobody told me any different.

Due to the stigma associated with Dementia, people forget there’s a beginning and a middle. So much life is still to be lived, albeit differently. And with help and support, I was determined to continue living life and having adventures no matter what other people thought.”

Wendy has inspired countless people with her journey, including sharing how an iPad has become her window into the world because dementia hasn't affected her ability with words. She writes a blog to share her story, plays words with friends, and keeps in touch with friends online. "I can type words quicker than I can speak".

Belinda (named supplied) was always busy with family and friends and worked as a manager coordinating volunteers. Then she got sick and had to give up a lot of things. When you get sick, she says, your contact with a lot of people trickles away. Being home, I knew I wanted to keep my brain sharp, and deliberately learn new things. She used a computer as a way to "get out" - including engaging in the community and joining a pain management group. She plays quizzes on Google home mini [my OT suggested it], listens to Spotify, and does mindfulness. A video doorbell helps her see and speak to whoever comes to the door, since she can't get to the door to answer it physically, in time.

Photos make her happy, as does reading stories over facetime to her grandson who lives interstate.

Rick Phelps, a dementia patient, and advocate says that for too many, the Amazon Echo is simply a cool thing to have; just another nifty electronic gadget. But to a dementia patient, it is much more than that.

It has afforded me something that I have lost: my memory. I can ask Alexa anything and I get the answer instantly. I can also ask it what day it is 20 times each day, and I will still get the same correct answer. (It also doesn’t get annoyed with me.)

Sylvie (name supplied), shared an interview with us early last year. "My parents have done a lot for me, and I want to be there for them in every way. Now they both suffer from different types of dementia. They want to stay at home, and for a few years, I was able to help them with that, by using technology to give me comfort that they were ok. We got a large clock to help with the time, a reminder for medication, and a Google home hub so they could see us, especially during COVID. Two cameras, one on the front porch helped me know if one of them left at an unusual time, and the other in the entry so I could tell they made it up to bed safely and up in the morning. It helped us all enormously between my visits, and they couldn't have stayed home without it."

For stories, see the closing chapter of the Complete Guide (PDF)


Getting Outcomes

Noone gets unwell or older, and hopes for 'technology'. The important things, and the best outcomes, are always going to be about people, health advice, and changing behaviors and mindsets. As our circumstances, feelings, and needs change, it makes sense to consider new options.

Starting off, you may want to talk about what you or your family are hoping for.

  • Think about what the concern is, and name it. Is it that you're worried a fall may occur and no one will know? Is it that it takes time to drive around looking for a loved one who might be lost or in danger? Is the concern from one of you living away who misses being able to help?

  • What are the options available? Getting a carer in? What options are there with technology?

  • Why are you worried it might not work? List these and make a plan for each. ie. The smartwatch wouldn't be charged. The health data wouldn't be shared with the doctor. Set up a plan and routine combining people and technology to help out.

  • Make a Plan Talk it over together and explain to your loved one(s) why it's important. Assign responsibilities between you. Set it up correctly, and check in on if the goals are being met.

Here are some other ideas to consider for better outcomes.

Please always remember to take the advice of your doctor or health professional, involve your family, and do not consider these devices lifesaving devices. They may be left uncharged, unworn, disconnected, or may malfunction. In no way does this article replace health or medical advice.

There's no doubt things get harder as we age, even still, there is new research, progress, and acceptance every day, and there's a lot to look forward to.


More Information

View or download the Guide to Health-Related Technology for Aging, Living Alone & Memory.

We understand that technology changes continuously, and you may wish to discuss options with your family or doctor. To make life easier, in addition to this article, you can view an interactive collection of the technology mentioned, or download a free 100-page visual guide (pdf). The guide is independent and has been reviewed and supported by professionals in medicine, psychology, and technology.

The website is dedicated to bringing together the world's best health, home, and assistive technology, to give people choices. There you can search, read, or browse collections for a range of conditions including Fitness, Dementia, Ageing, Heart, Sleep, Parkinson's, etc. We scan the products independently, assess them, and help them be found in one place. We don't offer any products of our own.

For more about our story, and to share yours, visit We'd love it if you'd like to subscribe or share your suggestions to improve.

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