SINGAPORE - New and innovative technologies to aid the elderly are being adopted by medical institutions and nursing homes across the island.
One is a device that serves as both and umbrella and walking stick while including built-in functions such as an MP3 player and alarm sensor.
The Bond stick as it is called, was among 50 products from countries being showcased at the 9th International Ageing Asia Innovation Forum on Tuesday (May 15), which attracted hospital and healthcare professionals and product innovators.
The two-day forum at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre ends on Wednesday (May 16). The product showcase is open to the public on Wednesday. Entry is $50 but free for those over 50.
Many of the products were being launched for the first time outside of their country of origin.
Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said at the event: "Rethinking aged care and supporting our aged population is not a task that can be accomplished overnight.
"To succeed in these efforts, the public, private and people sectors will have to work in partnership to reimagine new possibilities and solutions."
The Bond stick actually looks more like an umbrella and so helps people who might be resistant to a walking cane due to the stigma attached, said Mr Tan Lee Tuan, director of local start-up Bekind Solutions, which devised the product.
An auto-fall sensor sets off a loud alarm if the user falls while holding the stick. The built-in MP3 player and radio also helps reduce the rate of dementia deterioration through sensory stimulation.
While officially launched at the forum, the product has been available at $73.80 in public hospitals like Tan Tock Seng and Singapore General since October.
Engineering manager Kit Su, 56, bought the stick for his elderly father who requires some form of walking support.
"We would always have to remind him to bring his last two sticks out, but for this one, he more or less always remembers to bring it around with him," said Mr Su, who added that his dad enjoys the built-in radio and MP3 function.
He also noted that although the stick is slightly heavier than normal ones, it is less bulky and stands by itself so his 86-year-old father need not constantly find a place to rest it against.
Other innovations on show at the forum include the Japanese-designed Doki Doki Snake Extermination game, which is used to strengthen the leg muscles and improve reaction times.
Like the Whac-A-Mole game, users apply their feet to push snakes that pop up from the game machine.
There are plans to use it in five nursing homes and eldercare centres here. It will likely make its way to the Salvation Army next month.
SmarTable is another form of fun rehabilitation. It has six games that seek to improve memory, accuracy in hand movement and response times, especially for people with cognitive impairment.
The games are simple and interactive, like a memory one to find matching cards.
Ms Janice Chia, founder and managing director of Ageing Asia, said: "When we look at all the services that are emerging in the market today, it is a sign of acknowledgement that the changing baby boomer wants something different.
"They want to be stronger as they age, supported as they age, enabled and empowered."