How wearable tech can help the growing 'Caregiver' sector
There an estimated 8 million unpaid ‘caregivers’ in Canada providing care to chronically ill or disabled loved ones, with age related needs being the most common conditions requiring assistance. (Sinha, 2015). Specifically, the prevalence of diabetes in the Canadian population is estimated to have grown from 9.3% or 3.4 million people in 2015 to 12.1% or 5 million people in 2025 (Canadian Diabetes Association, 2016). This growing marketplace finds caregivers in need of a solution for their unpaid service for loved ones and a niche for products to assist in saving time and potentially saving lives. With the induction of personalized health care as a growing option within the healthcare system, many technological or health and wellness focused companies, such as Novo Nordisk, Roche and Medtronic to name a few, have already started to move in the direction of wearables that move beyond fitness to include disease monitoring and pre-disease detection.
Peace of mind, monitoring and alerts are extremely important for the care of our senior population because it enhances comfort and independence. According to A Place for Mom, a Seattle based care referral service for families in the search of senior care options, the statistics gathered about seniors in North America who die from neglecting to take their medication on time or taking their medication incorrectly are alarmingly high. This, as well as stating in their article “Importance of Taking Medications Correctly” (2018), “up to 58% of all seniors make some kind of error when taking their medications, with 26% making mistakes with potentially serious consequences.” (A Place for Mom, 2018)
In addition, they emphasize that “up to 23% of nursing home admissions may be due to an elderly person's inability to self-manage her prescription medications at home.” (A Place for Mom, 2018). Hence, the objective of wearable tech to assist in providing enough information to Zoomers to remind them to take their medications correctly as well as know when they need to take serious action for their health. It is estimated that the ‘caregiver market’ will grow in the next few years from a $42.9 billion industry to a $72 billion industry by the year 2020 (Baum, 2016). A great deal of people also receive government assistance to help care for their elderly loved ones. Therefore, wearable technology for the caregiver sector not only helps the individual, but has the opportunity to assist institutionally, nation-wide, as well.
Within the United States, there are approximately 40 million unpaid caregivers. As a result of a survey the AARP performed, it is now known that 71 percent of caregivers would be interested in technology that could help them to assist those they take care of, however, only 7 percent are actually using such technology (Versel 2016). This challenge arises from the fact that much of this newer technology simply is not promoted clearly. Consumers see a new, flashy gadget and they tend to think it may be complicated, especially if they already have a routine they’ve developed. When promoting wearable tech to the caregiver market it would be wise to emphasize the ‘ease of use’ and heavily promote the product in ways outside commercials by having them demonstrated in person at select public spaces where the caregivers are. The ability to accommodate the caregiver's already established routine is paramount to having the technology go from a great idea to standard usage. Wearable technology that could be integrated into the already ubiquitous smartphones, which caregivers could check while on the go, would certainly enhance the lives of many.
Independence is extremely important for Zoomers, and wearable technology could assist in bringing long-lived independence for caregivers and loved ones alike. Those developing wearable tech must be cognizant of promotion and ease of use during set up, as well as day to day function so that the freedom gained from using wearable tech to assist in care-giving would not come with new bonds created by clunky interfaces and confusing, multi-step setups. The more invisible the wearable technology is, the easier it will be to fully integrate it into the lives of those who need it and only then will it bring the freedom and independence that this technology promises.
A Place for Mom (2018, January). Importance of Taking Medications Correctly. Retrieved from
Baum, S. (2016, January 8). These are the caregiver spending priorities driving a $42 ...
Retrieved from http://medcitynews.com/2016/01/these-are-the-caregiver-spending-priorities- driving-a-42-9b-market-80-of-their-expenses-are-out-of-pocket/
Canadian Diabetes Association. 2015 Report on Diabetes: Driving Change.Toronto, ON: CDA; 2015.
Retrieved from: https://www.diabetes.ca/getmedia/5a7070f0-77ad-41ad-9e95-ec1bc56 ebf85/2015-report-on-diabetes-driving-change-english.pdf.aspx
Sinha, M. (2015, November 30). Portrait of caregivers, 2012. Retrieved from
Versel, N. (2016, October 20). Caregivers say they want technology. Why aren't they ...
Retrieved from http://medcitynews.com/2016/10/caregivers-technology/