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New app can help seniors live better


Washington : Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new app aimed at enhancing the physical health, vitality and brain fitness of older people residing in independent living communities.

One of the traditional challenges of these communities is how caretakers and nurses can provide support in an environment where they have many patients, researchers said.

Unlike many available apps for seniors that merely track data, the app, developed by the University of Notre Dame’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Network Science and Applications (iCeNSA) and called eSeniorCare, creates a personalised socio-ecological construct around the senior.

It not only helps empower and engage the seniors, but also provides a continuity of care allowing health workers to proactively reach out to at-risk seniors when they need help, while still allowing them to maintain their independence.

Seniors can connect with care providers by sending concerns and questions as text or voice recordings.

A physical health component of the app allows seniors to track a variety of health goals. They can set goals, such as eating less fast food or drinking less caffeine, and maintain a record of various activities in support of such goals and send the records to resident health administrators for guidance, reflection and personal motivation.

The app also features medication scheduling and management, medication history, medication reminders and medication adherence. Medication reminders have textual, audio and video components.

Because the app is interactive, caretakers can see when medications aren’t being taken correctly or renewed on time and can quickly intervene to remedy the problem.

One of eSeniorCare’s most popular features with seniors is brain games designed to enhance cognitive health and avoid impairment of mental function, researchers said.

A variety of crossword and Sudoku puzzles and other games provide the opportunity for mental stimulation.

As might be expected, when seniors first begin using the tablet app, there is a degree of trepidation. However, they quickly become not just comfortable with technology but also enthusiastic about using it.

This transition is being further helped by pairing seniors with high school students as they are first learning how to use the app.

“It is about personalised health care,” Nitesh Chawla, director of iCeNSA, said.

“It is about the individual. It is about how we can bring data and technology together to help empower the ageing population to live healthy, independent, social and productive lives. It is about making a difference,” Chawla said.

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