As the pace of technological advancement quickens and its products become ubiquitous in our everyday lives, it can be easy to dismiss new developments as simply a fad. But every once in a while something comes along that has the potential to change the way we live for the better. Here at the Residential Assisted Living Academy, we are continually searching for opportunities to help you improve your Residential Assisted Living Homes and we wanted to pass along information on this new technology that might be of use to you and your residents.
Recently, Apple has come out with their new range of Apple watches and some of the features available in this model are quite impressive and especially applicable to aging populations.
*Full disclosure, this is not an advertisement for Apple. There are numerous versions of this technology on the market, but for the sake of simplicity and to shed light on the potential benefits for seniors, we are discussing the Apple version.
One of the interesting features of this watch is the Breathe app, designed to assist with mindfulness, meditation and stress reduction and can be used to help lower the heart rate. The app then coaches you through a session, as you practice breathing and it monitors your heart rate and provides a summary of the breathing sessions. Mindfulness and breathing are increasingly seen as an essential component of mental well-being. Health professionals recommend mindfulness as a way of dealing with stress, anxiety and depression.
Another useful health feature that is especially beneficial for seniors is that it can now detect when the wearer falls by analyzing wrist trajectory and impact acceleration. It will then initiate an emergency call. If it senses the wearer is immobile for one minute, it will automatically call and send a message to emergency contacts using the SOS feature.
Many heart monitor watches and older models of the Apple Watch include an optical heart rate sensor to track resting heart rate, calories burned, and more. But this latest Apple watch will be able to screen the wearer’s heart rhythm in the background. And it will send a notification to the watch if it detects irregular rhythm, which could point to atrial fibrillation or other heart malfunction. The watch also sends the wearer notifications if their heart rate appears to be too low, possibly signifying that the heart isn’t pumping enough blood to the body. Although the device is obviously not able to diagnose an issue, it can potentially help detect it for you so you can then consult a medical professional.
Could this simple technology help save lives?
One of the most impressive features on this latest version of the Apple watch is the built-in electrical heart sensor allowing users to take an electrocardiogram (ECG). The first of its kind in a smartwatch, this feature will measure electrical activity of the heart in order to help detect abnormal heart function. The user is able to take an ECG anytime, anywhere, straight from their wrist by opening the app and placing a finger on the digital crown.
The reading is ready in just 30 seconds, allowing the wearer to determine whether their heart is beating in a regular pattern or if there are signs of atrial fibrillation, which can be an indication of serious health problems. Atrial fibrillation is a health condition that often goes undiagnosed, so the ECG feature in the watch will be very useful for detecting early signs of disease.
And since all of the information is stored in the health app, the wearer will be able to share the ECG with a doctor, who will be able to see a more detailed picture of how the heart is functioning. It should also be noted that Apple has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to promote these health claims.
Bottom line…Is this technology for everyone?
Maybe not. The price tag is a bit steep at $399 and there are other brands at a more reasonable price with fewer features. However, if the ECG feature can inform the wearer of heart malfunctions that lead to a doctor catching a problem before it’s too late, I would say that is definitely worth the cost of the watch and much more.
At the Residential Assisted Living Academy, we are not interested in promoting random products, but our goal is to inform you about opportunities and solutions that can help your assisted living business and to help improve the lives of the seniors in your care.
Whether this is a technology for today, or possibly one that will proliferate in the near future, it is nonetheless an interesting opportunity to consider.