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Wellness for Aging Parents

How a Pair of Socks can be a healing agent

The best thing about having baby boomer parents are their anecdotal stories from their youth.The story that resonates with me most is that of my great grandfather Allen. My father lovingly describes him as a hard-working man with a strong love for family. One of the memories that haunts my dad is when my great-grandfather’s leg was tragically amputated as a result of a diabetes.

Learning what it was like for my father to witness this traumatic incident gives me pause when thinking about caring for my parents as they age, and the responsibility I will bear if either falls ill, or if a similar situation happens to my father.

While over 25% of all US adults over 65 have diabetes, African Americans are disproportionately affected: 13.2% of all African Americans ages 20 or older have diabetes; and African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. My family is part of this population. Sadly, one of the devastating effects of diabetes is amputation. However, most amputations are preventable. Every year, over 100,000 feet and legs are lost to amputation because people with diabetes cannot feel their feet and don’t realize they have a foot ulcer, which can lead to an infection and then amputation if left untreated.

Siren was founded with the goal of preventing unnecessary amputations. It is a female-founded startup whose founder graduated from Northwestern’s esteemed biotechnology program, and it has just created a new smart sock, which helps people with diabetes monitor and track the health of their feet. This amazing sock features a new washable, moisture-wicking “Neurofrabic” embedded with microsensors to monitor foot temperature; the sock is very comfortable to wear. 

The people who are most prone to diabetic foot ulcers and amputations are our most vulnerable populations – the frail, elderly, and those suffering from obesity and cardiovascular-related diseases.Though caring for elderly parents can be a vast responsibility, it gives me great comfort knowing there are new products that will help improve how we provide care for them. 

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