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Baby boomers wired to their iPads and smart phones are giving U.S. health experts some new ideas about ways to cut the soaring costs of medical care in graying America.
Some of the ideas might sound like “Robo-Granny”. An astronautical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has made a skin-tight undersuit equipped with sensors that can constantly monitor the vital signs of its elderly wearer and feed the data into a computer that fires off health alerts. It was first designed for a landing on Mars.
There’s also Paro, the robotic seal which has fur, big eyes and responds to voice commands, a low-cost companion that the AgeLab at MIT is testing to help calm elderly people with dementia. Then there is the magic carpet with a built-in sensor that monitors gait to check for risk of falling.
Other ideas are simpler and already are being tested by governments and private health insurers. Marilyn Yeats, 79, is suffering from congestive heart failure and uses a personal healthcare computer, Connect, provided by the health insurer Humana Corp. She calls it My Little Nurse for helping her keep track of her blood pressure, weight, temperature and whether she is taking her medicines on time.