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With Wearable Tech, the Elderly Get a Tool for Independence

He Lianxing had just returned home from a trip when she collapsed on the sofa. The 74-year-old, who lived alone, felt faint and was having trouble talking. She pressed an SOS button on her wearable device, then another to alert her daughter that she was unwell. Within five minutes, an ambulance had reached her, and 10 minutes after that, she was admitted to hospital, accompanied by family. A combination of quick thinking, swift medical response, and innovative tech helped save He’s life.

Meeting the needs of an aging population

We’re living longer thanks to improvements in healthcare, medicine, and living standards. A United Nations report estimates that the population aged 65 or older globally will more than double, from 761 million in 2021 to 1.6 billion, by 2050. This demographic shift brings unique challenges, especially as many seniors opt to live independently.

The older we get, the more likely we are to face issues like diminished self-care ability, hearing impairment, dementia, and risks of falls. Loneliness and social isolation can also be major health threats: In 2023 the U.S. surgeon general said that loneliness carries a health risk as serious as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Addressing these challenges and helping people live socially active and connected lives is vital not only for seniors, but also for wider society.

Innovating to develop self-care devices for seniors

At Tencent SSV Elderly Care Technology Laboratory, we’re committed to helping seniors live healthier lives for longer. To achieve this, we codeveloped the Silver Guardian, the same one that He used, with our industry partners. Launched in collaboration with the Nanhai District of Foshan in China, the Silver Guardian is more than a gadget — it’s a lifeline.

Wearable, compact and user friendly, it features a suite of tools tailored to the diverse needs of seniors living independently. The Guardian is designed to foster active, self-directed lives while ensuring safety and connectivity with family and community.

Key benefits of the Silver Guardian

Emergency Assistance at Your Fingertips

The Guardian’s SOS function can be a lifesaver. A single press of a button immediately connects the user to a medical services center and notifies up to four contacts, like family and caregivers. This rapid response system is vital in urgent situations like falls or a stroke, where every second counts. The device efficiently and securely provides emergency responders with medical details and facilitates accurate health assessments and treatments. The Silver Guardian also alleviates the stress of recalling and communicating complex information during a health emergency.

Ensuring Safe and Confident Mobility

The real-time positioning system aids seniors who wish to navigate the world on their own terms. For instance, if someone with Alzheimer’s gets lost or ventures beyond an agreed-upon safe area, the Silver Guardian guides them back. This feature helps open up the world for people who enjoy their independence but need backup.

Simplified and Secure Transactions

With Weixin Pay integrated, the Silver Guardian makes financial transactions eaier and secure for seniors. Customizable spending limits and one-tap payment functionality minimize the risk of errors, offering a hassle-free payment experience.

Staying Connected Made Easier

The device simplifies communication with family members by enabling seniors to make quick calls to their loved ones. Even in this high-tech age, a simple conversation has immense power to stave off isolation.

Medication Management Simplified

Taking multiple medications is a reality for many seniors. The Silver Guardian’s reminder system ensures they stick to a schedule and improves health management by providing dosage alerts.

Organizing Daily Life with Ease

To help seniors keep track of their appointments and commitments, the device provides reminders. Having this kind of digital personal assistant to help out with the calendar is useful for maintaining an active and fulfilling social life.

Progress to Date and Next Steps

Since its launch in 2023, over 15,000 Silver Guardian devices have been issued, with a high active usage rate. Notably, the device has facilitated swift emergency responses, coming to the aid of seniors in critical situations, like what happened with 74-year-old He. This success not only benefits seniors but also provides peace of mind to their families and caregivers.

Through innovations like the Silver Guardian, Tencent is working to transform senior care. Emphasizing efficiency as well as dignity fosters greater independence. In the next three years, Tencent will provide 40,000 Silver Guardian and more smart elderly-care solutions to people in Nanhai District. We envision a future where getting old means living better as well as longer.