As Baby Boomers age, the need for adult care and assisted living continues to grow. As of February 2015, 8.4 million people in the U.S. receive support annually from five main long-term care service options: home health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, residential care communities, and adult day service centers. Outside these facilities, 43.5 million family and informal caregivers currently provide care for someone aged 50+.
The demand for these resources will grow exponentially in the coming years due to increased life expectancy and an aging population. By 2050, the number of people aged 85 and older is expected to increase to 19.4 million, with individuals using paid long-term care services projected to reach 27 million people.
Even among the most severely disabled older persons living in our country, about two-thirds rely solely on family members for assisted care, often resulting in great emotional stress for family caregivers.
We need a more viable and scalable solution to meet this demand. Enter a new wave of smart home technology known as assistive domotics.
Assistive domotics is an application of home automation that focuses on enabling elderly or disabled persons to live at their home instead of a healthcare facility. These products use Bluetooth sensors to track movements in the home, or lack thereof, of elderly parents. Sensors can be placed on any item, including pillboxes, doors, and keychains. GPS technology documents precise location information of the person, logs activity, and reports it to a family member living somewhere else.
Empowering the elderly to live independently instead of in an adult care facility not only provides financial savings, it also has great potential to improve quality of life, reduce the strain on aged care facilities, and provide relief for family caregivers.
As Diane Cook, lead researcher at Washington State University’s “Smart Home Project” describes, “Individuals don’t want to leave their home even if they live in a rural area and don’t have easy access to health care or family members. They still will not leave their family home. Studies show that when they do – particularly against their will – that move is often followed by cognitive and physical decline and death.”
Here are several ways assistive domotics help with independent living for the elderly:
Beyond the immediate benefits to the elderly, this type of technology provides additional comfort to those in the “sandwich generation,” a term coined for those simultaneously supporting aging parents and their children.
With all of these benefits in mind, brands are beginning to provide smart home products to fulfill the potential of assistive domotics.
Some of these products include:
While this technology is useful to both older adults and their loved ones, one must ask: “What about the Big Brother effect?” Older consumers are known to be slow to adopt emerging technologies, especially ones that could invade their privacy.
Despite these notions, a study from the Journal of Aging Science shows that older adults indeed readily accept smart-home technologies, especially if they benefit in physical activity, independence, function, and most importantly, if privacy concerns are addressed.
Or, as the study poignantly assessed, “While the outcomes and cost effectiveness of these forms of technology remain to be assessed, they appear to show some potential for helping older adults to live longer, safely, and independently in their own homes.”
The author of this blog is Tarun Nimmagadda, founder & co-chief executive officer, Mutual Mobile.
Click to read more on IOT at Mutual Mobile