With the number of senior citizens increasing and a lot of them opting to live at home rather than in a nursing facility, how to care for them in a home setting has become a top priority for governments and care providers. In this regard, technology can help, and many countries in the world have already adopted related products and solutions.
Needless to say, aging has become a phenomenon across the globe. According to figures by the United Nations, the number of older persons — those aged 60 years or over — is expected to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by 2100, rising from 962 million globally in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050 and 3.1 billion in 2100. The study also suggests globally, population aged 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups.
Amid this trend, providing care for seniors so that they can live with independence and dignity has become a top agenda for both public and private sector players. More and more, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have sprung up to accommodate the elderly, providing care for them.
Despite this, there are still senior citizens who opt to stay at homes due to the comfort and convenience factors. And thanks to technology, seniors can be better taken care of in their homes via telehealth or remote monitoring solutions with which healthcare professionals can monitor individuals’ vital signs and provide immediate assistance should something happen.
Meanwhile, various smart home technologies can help make home living easier for seniors. Voice assistants can provide information and even serve as agents that keep senior citizens company so they don’t feel lonely or isolated.
What some countries are doing
In fact, these technologies are already seen in several countries around the globe. The following are some examples.
According to a post by the European Commission, a EU-funded Smart Service Power project has developed an internet of things (IoT) platform – mainly accessible via natural language assistance software – for use with internet-connected sensor technologies to help the elderly live independently at home for as long as possible. The platform is now being trialed in the German cities of Dortmund, Duisburg and Arnsberg.
“The platform can remotely monitor a person’s condition in real time, predict any deterioration in their health, detect a medical emergency, and alert healthcare emergency services if help is needed,” the post said. “The technology assures users that medical help will be provided when they need it.”
According to an article by the US News and World Report, Nordic countries, including Sweden, are quite advanced in this regard. Among the technologies deployed in Swedish homes cited by the article are: smart health care systems that can track seniors’ food intake, sleep patterns, heart rates and other daily habits; and smart medicine dispensers that can track medicine intake, compare data with a symptom log and improve compliance.
Japan, being an aging society, is home to some of the most advanced technologies that help with seniors living at home. According to a post by Web Japan, “monitoring support robots” using communication and IoT technologies are set up in several locations in the senior citizen’s house and measure motion, temperature, humidity and light levels via built-in sensors. Also according to the post, sensors attached to household appliances collect data that give a pattern of daily activity for the senior citizen; family members receive an alert via email if there are any abnormalities such as a vacuum cleaner that is switched on for several hours.
Source: William Pao, a&s International Date: 2019/03/26