According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, almost 43,000 Americans take their own lives each year.
Despite what most people think, the majority of suicide victims aren’t bullied or angst-ridden teens. In fact, from 2000 to 2015, the suicide rate for people under the age of 20 was only 3.0 per 100,000. The vast majority of suicide victims are adults with a rate of 15.5. And surprisingly, seniors age 85 and older had the second highest suicide rate of all adults with 19.4 in 2015. The rate of seniors aged 65 to 84 was 16.1 during the same year.
The most common reasons why so many elderly are taking their own lives are depression, isolation and health/mental issues. To combat these factors, many IoT companies are developing tools to assist the elderly with their day-to-day lives.
There’s a wave of companion robots that are perfect for keeping elderly that live by themselves from feeling isolated. Cute and cheerful robots like ElliQ and Buddy are voice interactive and keep their owners connected with loved ones through texts, video chats and social media. They also suggest and play games helping their owners to feel more connected and less isolated. Plus, they can monitor their environments to detect falls or unusual activity and remind their owners to take their medications.
But companion robots don’t have to look like something out of a Pixar movie in order to be helpful. Robotic pets are becoming more popular for those that need a companion that’s a bit cuddlier. The cat and puppy from Hasbro’s Joy for All Pets and PARO the robotic harp seal are helping alleviate patients’ depression and other mental health issues.
Medical alert buttons worn around the neck have been around for a while. They are helpful in the event that the wearer has fallen and can reach the button to signal for help. But what about those that can’t? New smartwatches designed specifically for the elderly like the Kanega watch are voice activated with no buttons to confuse the wearer. It can detect falls and long-periods of non-movement and ask the wearer if they’re okay. If there’s no response, it will contact designated people or emergency services. Plus it records location information and provides medication reminders.
As we continue to live longer lives, the need for companionship and assistance becomes greater and more important. The elderly shouldn’t be isolated, left to live on their own without any assistance. Luckily, there’s IoT tools and devices to fill in the gaps when human caregivers aren’t available. By helping their owners be more connected, active and engaged, these robots and wearables can help our elderly live longer, happier lives.