4. Wireless blood glucose monitor
The new Telcare blood glucose monitor is another example of the growing trend toward wireless-enabled testing gear, this time in the hands of the patient. The Telcare monitor has built-in cellular connectivity, so results for diabetes patients can be transmitted automatically and directly to a secure, personal website, without connecting to a computer or smartphone. The user decides which medical professionals, family members and caregivers can access this information. Messages about follow-up care can be sent right to the device, and it can also be used to reorder supplies. Patients who have a computer can go online to view their results over time using detailed graphs and charts. Telcare says its wireless solution is no more expensive than traditional systems for insured individuals.
Cost: $150 ($75 through Medicare; private insurance may reimburse)
5. Portable liquid oxygen system
For those who require oxygen at home on a regular basis, this new Philips HomeLox system offers unprecedented convenience by extracting oxygen from the air, instead of requiring periodic deliveries. The system includes the stationary HomeLox unit that filters, concentrates and refrigerates the oxygen, and the four-pound GoLox portable device for carrying liquid oxygen from place to place. Transferring oxygen between the two devices is a hands-free procedure that takes about a minute.
Cost: Contact local distributor
6. Personal tracking device
The company that offers the LoJack car tracking service to hunt down stolen vehicles has broadened its service to include monitoring of Alzheimer's disease, autism, Down syndrome and other patients who tend to wander. With the LoJack Safetynet system, the user wears a wireless bracelet with a unique ID code on the arm or ankle, and the bracelet can be traced by local law enforcement and public safety agencies if the individual goes missing. The bracelet requires only a single battery charge a month. And unlike GPS systems that require overhead satellite access for tracking purposes, the radio frequency SafetyNet system can also be used indoors and in wooded areas. Since the system requires cooperation from local authorities, it's not available everywhere. To find out if your ZIP code is covered, visit the company website.
Cost: $99 initial enrollment, $30/month service charge
7. Wireless personal assistant
The ActiveCare's Personal Assistance Link is a handset offering a range of features to assist people who want to continue living independently as they grow older. The device, which connects via the cellular network, includes a one-click help button to call for 24/7 assistance, a built-in fall detector that's monitored remotely, and GPS (plus communication-tower triangulation when needed) that can figure out a device's location within a few yards. The location information lets operators offer directions should the user get lost, or provide information to authorities or loved ones if needed.
Cost: $180 activation fee, $60/month service charge
Also of interest: Smartphone apps for 'aging in place.' >>
Steve Morgenstern is a technology writer based in New York.