It was estimated in April 2020 that half the world’s population was in lockdown due to coronavirus. Since that time, many countries have come in and out of lockdown and various other restrictions. And while there is some hope that the end is within sight with the vaccine roll-out, there is a long way to go.

Of course, coronavirus hasn’t impacted every country equally. Malawi was largely spared from the brunt of the virus in the first wave, but the government has had to act in early 2021, even going as far as overturning the court order that blocked previous lockdown attempts.

But regardless if you are in Lilongwe, London or LA, there is clear evidence that coronavirus has impacted seniors worst of all. We know, of course, that the elderly are more likely to suffer extreme illness with coronavirus, and much more likely to die from the disease.

And yet, the act of being isolated, in and of itself, has caused problems for seniors during the pandemic. The process of “shielding” has cut off many seniors from their usual routine: meeting other family members, visiting a doctor, getting outdoor exercise, and so on. The isolation creates medical risks, even if coronavirus is not a clear and present danger.

New tech has spurred growth in medical alert industry

These issues facing seniors have shined a light on the companies providing home medical alert systems. As you might expect, there has been a surge in demand for these systems over the last year.  But that growth is expected to continue throughout the 2020s, as technology provides smarter (and cheaper) options for home medical monitoring.

Review site, Top10.com, provides a step by step analysis of medical alerts systems for seniors, discussing the pros and cons of each product and evaluating the best companies in the industry. People have different needs and different reasons for wanting to install a system, and it’s worth reading an expert opinion before deciding if its right for you.

But when speaking in general terms, there is a need for these systems, and the pandemic has simply highlighted that fact – rather than created the issue. Medical problems caused by the isolation of seniors have been around long before anyone heard the term Covid-19, and they will be around long after the pandemic is gone. The medical alert system industry is expected to be worth $USD 17.29 billion by 2027.

Technology has given the companies behind these products the tools to monitor seniors, giving peace of mind to family members and helping seniors live independently. Breakthroughs in temperature monitoring, fall detection and alert systems have helped companies like Medical Guardian grow over the last few years. And, even when out of the home, GPS tech allows emergency services to pinpoint the exact location of someone in trouble.

Malawi seniors more likely to live with family

Of course, in Malawi, older adults are less likely to live alone than in North America or Europe. In sub-Saharan Africa generally, it’s about 9% of the population over 60, compared with 27% of the United States who live alone as seniors. But this will change too. Malawi’s population is currently youthful, but there will be an expected one million seniors in the country by 2030, two million by 2050.

But living alone at an older age is a global trend, one likely to continue as globalisation continues to transform countries on every continent. The fear is that we see more instances of what the Japanese call kodokushi (literally, lonely death). In that country, famed for its long-lived population, kodokushi is in the news and on the rise. There are harrowing stories of seniors’ bodies being found alone in apartments, only discovered after the rent payments finally bounced.

But the technology is there to keep us connected to our older member of family and community. The need for it has been highlighted by the coronavirus outbreak, when it wasn’t always possible to check up in person. But as the world wakes up to deal with a growing number of seniors, many of whom will want to retain independence by living alone, technology has a role to play in keeping them safe.

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