Next-Gen Seniors: Catalyst For A Healthier Canada
Education and Advocacy According to the World Health Organization, the number of individuals aged 65 and over is expected to triple in the next 30 years.
learly this will present significant challenges to governments and healthcare systems around the world as they aim to sustain our seniors. Within the wide-ranging spectrum of ramifications of this “grey tsunami” three main challenges are emerging:
- Advances in medical technology mean that yesterday’s acute conditions, like heart failure, are manageable as chronic conditions and, as a result, people are living longer.
- Increasingly, informal caregivers such as family members and friends of ill individuals will be called upon more often to provide healthcare and related support services to their loved ones as they age.
- Individuals will want to age with grace and dignity, remain socially connected and supported while staying in their own home for as long as possible.
It has never been more apparent that healthcare systems worldwide desperately require a more holistic, community-based approach to care, one that is supported by innovative tools and technologies, to face these challenges and provide better care outcomes to the next generation of seniors.
Fortunately, the building blocks needed to shift to this holistic approach already exist:
Consumer demand for accessible health-related technologies such as wearable fitness devices and smartphone apps has skyrocketed.
- Clinical innovations such as electronic medical records (EMRs), home health monitoring (HHM) and remote patient monitoring (RPM) have advanced physicians’ ability to provide better care and redefine healthy aging. Governments and venture funds alike are providing the funding to propel these innovations even further.
Seniors are more socially connected than ever before and many have the time, interest and financial stability to become even more tech-savvy. The retail market has played into this trend by launching products that appeal to seniors and are easy to use while addressing their unique needs. They enable self-health management and connect seniors to their informal circle of care – friends and family members.
These technologies also allow for better care at home and at the community level and the future has a lot of promise. Innovations such as passive activity sensors, for instance, provide seniors the ability to live more safely at home while tracking location and sending alerts in case of a fall or medical emergency.
Remote patient monitoring, which uses tele/video health and connected devices, like digital blood pressure cuffs for example, empowers seniors to have better self-care and fosters a deeper connection with healthcare providers from their very own home. The remote monitoring of biometrics can also reduce the progression of chronic disease and allow for intervention before an acute health event occurs.
Beyond the healthcare system
While these innovations are emerging, they are within discrete markets. Currently, there’s no one holistic approach to meeting the needs of seniors with a set of integrated end-to-end services. This is surprising considering the significant opportunity that exists to alleviate the pressure on our burgeoning healthcare system by connecting patients with doctors and other healthcare providers like pharmacists to encourage a culture of healthy aging.
A healthier future with a dose of technology
Technology, apps and connectivity play a critical role in keeping people engaged both socially and from a health perspective, and there is great desire to discover and support innovations to specifically address the challenges presented by aging populations. But integration of these technologies is key for creating healthier and happier Canadians – regardless of age.