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Futuristic Technology Transforming Senior Holistic Healthcare

Technology is developing at an ever-rapid pace and the medical industry is not being left behind. It was widely reported this week that Congress had launched a medical caucus across party lines dedicated to finding and funding medical innovation. Chief among their priorities are the full range of factors contributing to good health; namely, mental and physical health, in addition to the time honored tradition of spiritual observance. The Salk Institute is driving into gene therapy research that could help to rectify holistic challenges at the source, but more is being done to help people today.

The US population is growing older, with the Census Bureau reporting a 2.3% increase over 5 years in the proportion of over 65s making up the population. For this reason, innovation is pushing hard into comprehensive anti aging research.

Tackling dementia and alzheimers

Arguably one of the biggest healthcare challenges facing healthcare authorities globally is dementia and related conditions. In America alone, Alzheimer's deaths rank 6th out of all causes, according to Alzheimer’s Association. There have been a few developments in medical innovation to address the rising issue. First, associations including Alz.org have advocated a holistic, preemptive and mitigation approach to the diagnosis. For many people, improvements can be made by encouraging mental exercises and spiritual connections, the benefits of which have been emphasized by American Psychological Association expert Kenneth Pargament PhD. Speaking on the beneficial effect of religion and spirituality on mental health, Pargament found in 2013 that “Empirical studies of many groups dealing with major life stressors such as natural disaster, illness, loss of loved ones, divorce and serious mental illness show that religion and spirituality are generally helpful to people in coping, especially people with the fewest resources facing the most uncontrollable of problems”. Most recently, experts at the University of Minnesota have emphasized the benefit to physical health by spiritual and psychological healing, exemplified by improved prognoses in people "choosing" to heal.

Secondly, MIT Technology Review have advocated the use of AI to help diagnose early signs of Alzheimer's and support the condition. This is done through the ‘smart’ observance of everyday habits and patterns of behaviour and running comparison for signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Virtual care and support

According to a recent study by Grand View Research, the long term care market in the USA is set to balloon to $549.7m over the course of the next 6 years. With such huge figures in play, the importance and size of the care market is clear. Families with relatives possessed of complex and specific care requirements will be aware of the challenge it poses, and the need for good quality staff is ever present. Further developments from the MIT Technology Review of 2018 have earmarked virtual care as a trend that will help to influence senior care. Using technology like VR goggles, companions and animals can be created that help to stimulate the mental and spiritual wellbeing of seniors, in turn benefiting their physical wellbeing, confidence and all-important independence. Harvard Medical School found in January 2017 that loneliness is a potential for Alzheimer’s, demonstrating that companionship is a crucial dynamic in good mental health that can’t be ignored or left neglected.

The mental health of senior citizens is, like the rest of society, inextricably linked to the spiritual and physical health aspects. The rise of degenerative conditions has been startling, but technological innovation is helping to supplement proper diet and care to create great healthcare outcomes.