New technology in the elder care arena is promising easier, faster, and safer means for monitoring blood sugar for seniors with diabetes. If successful, these new gadgets could reduce the rate and intensity of long-term complications that can come with the disease. This new diabetes technology relies on wireless internet, nanotechnology, and predictive algorithms to automate and simplify the blood sugar testing process.
Common Diabetes Treatment
Diabetes affects more than 29 million people in the United States alone and is caused by the body’s inability to metabolize sugar into energy. If left untreated, diabetes can cause serious, and potentially fatal, long-term complications such as blindness, heart disease, kidney damage, loss of limbs, and more. The most common way to track diabetes and monitor blood sugar levels is the finger prick test.
For the millions of seniors with diabetes, they are required to prick their finger every day, sometimes multiple times per day, and test their blood sugar on tiny strips. Some seniors are required to prick themselves up to ten times per day. This is a painful and tedious method of checking blood sugar that can become very difficult for the elderly as they age. In addition, this test only gives a snapshot of their current sugar levels and does not show whether it is rising or falling. However, new technology aims to change the way that seniors track their diabetes.
New Technology for Diabetes
One new piece of technology hopes to do away with blood sugar testing altogether and instead use a senior’s tears. One of the head researchers at Google is developing contact lenses that measure a person’s blood sugar levels through the natural tears in their eyes. A miniature glucose sensor, wireless antennae, and other features would all be built into the lens. The technology would be invisible to the wearer because it sits on the iris and not the pupil.
Another new piece of technology that is already on the market is the continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Today, CGMs are used by fifteen percent of people with Type 1 diabetes, up from only six percent a few years ago. The technology works by taping a small radio transmitter above the waist that is attached to a razor thin wire which goes underneath the skin to test the sugar in a person’s cells. The data is collected every five minutes and wirelessly transmitted to the device that can also be synched to a smartphone through Bluetooth.
One CGM company is aiming to eliminate the small device completely and have the wire transmit information automatically to a person’s smartphone. It would also send an alert when that person’s blood sugar levels rise or fall to an unhealthy level. It is hoping to gain FDA approval by the end of this year. This continuous tracking of the blood sugar levels can provide real time data to seniors with diabetes in order to help them make healthier decisions regarding their own care.