Future Health, Part 1: Smart Shoes, Smart Shots, Smart "Pets", and Medical "Art" - HECMWorld.com Skip to content

Future Health, Part 1: Smart Shoes, Smart Shots, Smart “Pets”, and Medical “Art”


A Zen koan: If a senior falls in the home and no one is around to hear it, will help get there in time?

If the elder is wearing smart shoes, the answer is likely to be a resounding “yes”. French startup E-Vone designed senior-safe, sensor-padded footwear that will notify the designated contact person (medical professional, family member, caregiver, etc.) in the event the wearer falls. They not only help protect elders; these shoes can benefit hikers (especially someone hiking alone, whose distress could cost them their life), construction workers, and others who may be alone, fall, and need immediate assistance.

As we’ve noted many times, falls are an inevitable aspect of growing older: more than half of those 80 and better fall every year. Despite taking steps to maintain good balance as we age, falls still happen, usually when we least expect them. With sensor-implanted shoes, help is already on the way.


A Different Take on Man’s Best Buddy

Maybe the answer is a loyal dog — but not one that requires a lot of care, such as walking, feeding and potty training. Know a HECM client or other elder who insists on aging in place, refuses all assistance, yet is clearly starting to decline and could use a bit of monitoring?

You could try calling a few times a day (a little challenging on an ongoing basis if you’re running a business) or installing a home monitoring system, provided the senior in question will allow it. But what about a pet? Not one that needs care, but that provides it.

We’re not talking about a typical service animal, but a technological one: simulated “pets” on a tablet, backed by human caregivers who offer 24/7 monitoring, regular interaction (such as reminding the senior to drink water or take medication) and conversation. Such a service is eminently more affordable than an onsite human caregiver, and if the latter is not necessary, the virtual pet companion might be the purrrfect answer to assuage frazzled family members — and keep their beloved relative at home longer.

Shots That Save Lives

This flu season has been one of the worst in recent history, and many people of all ages, from children to seniors, have gotten the flu shot to ward off the actual illness. What is less well known are other after-the-fact shots that can save a life if administered in time.

For example, one older woman was hospitalized due to an irregular heartbeat. Upon discharge, her son moved her from her apartment to a senior group home where she would be more closely monitored. That was a smart move.

Just a day later, she was sitting on the couch, suddenly slumped over and couldn’t sit back up — sure signs of a stroke. A group home staff member immediately called 911, an ambulance sped to the hospital, and upon arrival, a physician administered the “stroke shot“, which removed the blood clot in her brain. Her feeling and speech returned, and she was able to go home.

Her son says, “It was a really close call. I believe she wouldn’t be here if she had had the stroke in her apartment.” He’s very likely correct: as the Stroke Association website proclaims, “Stroke used to be the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. Now it’s fifth. The higher survival rates are largely due to medical treatment advances. The right care — right away — can save both lives and quality of life.”

Art Inspires Science 

If a prompt shot can bring someone back from a stroke, can a similar type of ingenuity work for cancer?

Thinking far beyond the box is key. A PhD student at the Harvard-MIT Program in Heath Sciences and Technology (who’s also a grad student in integrative cancer research) was interested in finding as way to get treatment for ovarian cancer (one of the deadliest cancers for women) directly into the cell.

She began experimenting with origami, a Japanese folding paper art, to discover how to create a minimally invasive way to deliver the medication precisely where it needs to go. The result: a foldable drug-delivery device.

So between smart shoes, smart shots, smart “pets” and medical “art”, we’re reimagining senior health care in the 21st century. Your younger reverse mortgage clients will have a lot more tech support to age in place than previous generations.

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Editor in Chief: HECMWorld.com
As a prominent commentator and Editor in Chief at HECMWorld.com, Shannon Hicks has played a pivotal role in reshaping the conversation around reverse mortgages. His unique perspectives and deep understanding of the industry have not only educated countless readers but has also contributed to introducing practical strategies utilizing housing wealth with a reverse mortgage.
Shannon’s journey into the world of reverse mortgages began in 2002 as an originator and his prior work in the financial services industry. Shannon has been covering reverse mortgage news stories since 2008 when he launched the podcast HECMWorld Weekly. Later, in 2010 he began producing the weekly video series The Industry Leader Update and Friday’s Food for Thought.
Readers wishing to submit stories or interview requests can reach our team at: info@hecmworld.com.

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