Technology for the elderly helps fulfil lives

The number of elderly in Britain is projected to almost double by 2050 to some 19m. In addition, the number of people in advanced age, over 80 years, is now at around 3m people and is expected to reach 8m by 2050.

With these huge numbers of elderly people, many of whom are in ill-health, there’s a great need for care, whether at home or elsewhere, but it’s not always available, and some have warned of a looming crisis. That’s where technology can fill the gap, providing the elderly with facilities and services that enable them to live lives that are as good quality as possible.

As the UK’s society ages and the need for care becomes ever greater, an increasing focus is being put on the kinds of technology that can be employed to assist the elderly. Some that’s already available include simple alert devices that elderly people wear about them and can push a button to call for assistance. More sophisticated devices monitor a person’s health parameters and location, and can raise alarms if something is wrong.

One area where the elderly require a lot of assistance is with their sight, which often begins to fail as they reach advanced years. Mobile optometry is one way their sight can be looked after if they are unable to leave home due to illness or frailty, as it’s done in their own homes.

One optometry service that the elderly can avail of is provided by leading opticians Specsavers, which has over 700 branches around the country and recently acquired Healthcall Optical Services, a major UK mobile eye care firm.

Specsavers’ acquisition of Healthcall shows how companies are adapting to demands and changes in the marketplace, and in its mission to provide quality eye care for everyone, the elderly are also included. Eye care is one of the basics in caring for the elderly, because if failing eyesight is not addressed and, if possible, corrected, it can lead to accidents such as falling and tripping that might leave frail people badly injured and bedridden for long periods.

Specsavers Healthcall, as the new firm is called, will test the sight of elderly people in their homes and prescribe any treatments, including corrective lenses. There’s no difference in the high level of service offered in homes as at Specsavers’ branches, as only the best equipment and highly trained personnel are employed. For those who are unable to leave the house and require eye care, the NHS provides free home eye tests.

Paul Carrol, director of professional services at Specsavers, said no one should suffer with their eyesight because they’re housebound and unable to get out to a high-street opticians.

“As we get older it’s vital that we look after every aspect of our health and, of course, that includes our sight,” he said.

“Making it as easy as possible for some of our most vulnerable customers to see a trusted professional in their own home is, in our view, a step into the future.”

Paul Carrol is director of professional services at Specsavers.

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