Smart homes are becoming more ubiquitous than ever before. With apps that notify you when you are out of milk to remote access to the thermostat, who wouldn’t love to live in a digitalized home of their own?
However, smart homes go far beyond not having to get up. Apart from saving time, they can now contribute to saving lives by providing real-time monitoring and capturing vital data that can alert loved ones about a critical situation.
With better health procedures and advanced medical facilities, the average lifespan has now reached 71 years, a number that is predicted to rise in the future. So, what has digitalization and technology done to help elders, particularly those that prefer to live in their own homes as opposed to living in elderly care homes?
First of all, the concept of ‘in-place’ aging has positive feedback both from elders and their caretakers. With the cost of elder care making it difficult for relatives to entrust older family members to care homes or at-home assistance services, the population has turned to the option that is both reliable and has reduced overall health costs that would otherwise lead families on the verge of bankruptcy. That option is living in smart homes that can help reduce health-related costs:
- Elder home care revenue for the industry will rise above $300 billion by 2020
- Emergency room visits were reduced by 20% as a result of a telehealth monitor that can detect changes in behavioral patterns, walking pace, and even how frequently a patient gets up during the night. This vital information can be a precursor for a stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or a urinary tract infection.
- Subsequently, families have saved up to $12,000 on hospital-borne infections by using body sensors.
- Applications and health monitors can cost as little as $10, while a hospital stay for a night can add up to $10,000.
Reduced accidents with the help of real-time sensors and alerts
There is a never-ending list of possibilities here:
- Smart beds can detect the breathing rate, temperature and blood pressure of the patient, and alert family members in case of irregularities
- A smart bed as well as motion detectors can tell when a person gets up in the middle of the night. Any unusual inactivity for a longer than usual period of time can trigger an alert as well. Detectors at night can even light up the way to reduce the chances of falling, something visually impaired elders can greatly benefit from.
- Fall detectors are literally life savers. During the event of a fall, relatives and/or a nearby hospital can be alerted in order to dispatch immediate medical help.
- Sensors in different home appliances do their part in making sure everything is under control; stoves turn off after some inactivity in case a patient with dementia leaves it on, thermostats can regulate the temperature of the house, and even open and close doors, gates, and heavy appliances like fridge doors which can be challenging for weaker patients.
- Amazon has a Dash Button that can be used to order common household items ranging from toilet paper to pet food and even medicine. This reduces the risk of a patient wandering off to buy these items themselves, as can be for a patient with Alzheimer’s who can no longer grasp the limitations of age and strength. This is also a groundbreaking technology for handicapped patients and elders with limited mobility.
Apart from the more digitalized tools and technology, there are countless examples of gadgets that are misinterpreted to be for those ‘too lazy’ to do such and such task the normal way, but are in fact very useful for those with a weak grip and even the mentally challenged.
What are other ways the modern world is helping the elders? Do you have an elder that has benefitted from this technology? Let us know in the comments!