Japan is aging fast. In a country that is home to a record 80,000 centenarians, about 29% of the population is 65 or older, and by 2036 elderly people will represent a third of the population. The super-ageing society is not a Japan-only issue, of course.
Trends in Europe are not too far behind Japan. In the UK, there are now more people aged 65 and over in England and Wales than children aged under 15. Senior people have surged by 20% over the past decade. In the US, about 10,000 people daily turn 65 and the percentage of people over the age of 85 is predicted to double to 14 million by 2040, in part because Americans are living longer. In 2050, 84 million elderly people will live in America.
“Who Will Care for America’s Elderly?”, titles Politico.com. Though question, particularly when the labor shortage gripping US workforce across industries is felt most acutely in healthcare: 400,000 nursing home and assisted living staff quit their jobs since January 2020 due to pandemic exhaustion, low salaries and limited career opportunities.
The debate around AgeTech – technology designed to meet the needs of older adults and those who care for them – turns up and intersects the growing focus on P4 medicine, now P5, as a predictive, personalized, preventive, participatory and precision discipline. This patient-centered care approach leverages latest digital and sensor-based technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics to support diagnosis, treatment and assistance.
Bed sensor systems are increasingly used in hospitals, clinics, nursing, and care houses: they do not replace nursing staff but can ease the burden on personnel and make some routine tasks quicker and simpler, with benefits for patients too. By integrating high-precision sensors to measure some vital parameters and referential body weight, these solutions contribute to the effective monitoring of patients’ conditions, save some workload of the nursing staff and spare the recipients’ inconvenience.
IoT-based platforms for remote, non-invasive patient monitoring may also be used for seniors and patients who are assisted at home. They may benefit from continued and reliable medical care without leaving their homes and enjoying some independence.
AgeTech and smart technologies are not the silver bullet for the super-ageing society, but they can make longevity somewhat more comfortable and support medical care when needed.