RFID Wearables Remotely Monitor Seniors to Improve Care
RFID Wearables Remotely Monitor Seniors to Improve Care

Mar 26, 2020

Senior citizens comprise the world’s fastest-growing population group. Within the next 50 years, their number is expected to double from the current 10% to 22% (700 million to 1.4B people). They present a growing challenge for healthcare, as seniors frequently suffer from chronic mental and physical diseases. They also require expensive medical care and ongoing monitoring. Seniors currently occupy 90% of the nursing home beds, which is expected to grow rapidly. [1]

However, the resources available for healthcare services are limited. This issue has triggered a requirement for technology-driven changes to current healthcare practices to provide better assistance, such as radio frequency identification (RFID) health monitoring wearables. These solutions help seniors be more autonomous and self-reliant in taking care of their own health, resulting in fewer hospital visits and better care management. For seniors, falling can be a serious health risk. Each year, three million people are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries, and one out of four seniors has a serious fall, but there are options for preventing falls.

One option is to use remote monitoring devices, such as RFID wearables to notify caregivers of falls. However, not all seniors feel comfortable using technology because they don’t understand how to use it. Like those who came of age in the computer era move into their elder years, more seniors are gradually becoming more tech-savvy.

RFID Remote Monitoring Wearables

Design is a vital factor for creating devices like wearables for seniors since each one needs to be adapted to hearing, vision, and/or mobility challenges. The medical alert devices, like wearables, that are currently popular with seniors reflect many of the design factors that are important to them, such as automated fall detection technology, simple user interfaces, and communication capabilities. Wearables that can effectively educate seniors about their health and enable them to be more active in their healthcare are the most successful. [2]

RFID wearables utilize radio signals to automatically track seniors by using RFID tags that contain electronically stored data. Tags are categorized into being either passive or active. Passive tags collect energy from nearby RFID readers interrogating radio waves. In contrast, active tags have a local power source such as a battery and may be read at distances of hundreds of meters from the RFID reader. In addition, unlike a barcode, the tags don’t need to be within the reader’s line of sight; therefore, an RFID tag may be embedded in the tracked object. Readers are preassigned to specially designated places. They communicate using predefined radio frequencies and protocols. [3]

RFID and WSN Integrated Solutions

The growing number of seniors yields an increased demand for assisted living solutions that can permit them to live safely and independently in their own homes. An integrated in-home care solution, enabled with wireless sensor networks (WSN) and RFID technology, provides assisted living and improved care via home surveillance, medication usage reminders, and early warnings of a potentially dangerous situation, such as fire or gas leakage. Integrating WSN and RFID into an in-home care solution enables real-time remote monitoring of the elderly and their homes. The WSN modules monitor the surrounding home environment using a collection of sensor nodes.

The sensor network in the assisted living solution uses WSN modules and various analog sensors. It enables elders monitoring, in-home surveillance, and urgent events notification. RFID is a system of storing and retrieving data, similar to barcode technology. It uses small, unobtrusive identification tags, which enable the identification of people and items. The RFID system realized within the proposed solution provides older adults presence indication and memory enhancement through items and medication usage reminders.

Gathering Date from RFID Wearables

Using an RFID wearable can do far more for a senior’s health than alert a loved one about a fall. They can help them easily view changes in their health patterns and become more proactive, driving earlier intervention and treatment. As these devices evolve to include predictive analytics, video, and voice recognition, they’ll become even better suited to the unique needs of seniors. While better design can make it easier for seniors to use wearables, physicians can help promote their adoption and benefits from wearing them.

To help avoid major health issues, such as falls, and help stabilize chronic health conditions, data captured over a long period of time can enable physicians to view changes and shifts in their patients’ actions. As seniors become more active participants in their care, wearables open up two-way communication and create opportunities to integrate these devices into healthcare. Physicians who actively encourage their senior patients to use these devices will understand when a patient’s health may be deteriorating or when intervention is needed.

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