Majd Alwan, Ph.D., executive director of CAST and SVP of Technology at LeadingAge, was quoted in a recent Los Angeles Times article on sensor technology, called “Aging under a high-tech eye.”
The article discusses the value of smart home sensors and gadgets that are enabling older adults to remain in their homes as they age, such as strategically placed home sensors, floor sensors that track footsteps, home gadgets such as medication trackers and virtual sitters, and webcams and video conferencing systems.
The growth of the older population, health care worker shortages, and the costs of building enough assisted living and skilled nursing facilities to meet demand are driving this trend. “Corporations and government policy makers realize that as the boomers age, the costs won’t be sustainable if we continue to do business the way we're doing it right now,” Alwan is quoted as saying.
The article mentions sensor products in the $200 to $2,000 price range that have been introduced in the past two years and are not yet widely used. “But they should become more popular,” said Alwan, “especially as the systems become more integrated.”
While the primary goal is to keep seniors safe and living in their homes, this technology also gives seniors’ children peace of mind. “The overall thrust is to increase the quality of life and of care that seniors receive in their home,” said Alwan, “and ease the burdens on their families and on society in general.”
The articles describes a variety of approaches, including technologies that check lights, stovetops, and doors; presence lamps that light in the senior’s and/or caregiver’s homes to show that someone is there and available; and memory aids. Other technologies track behavior and footstep patterns, such as shuffling, to detect falls and disease warning signs.
Video conferencing not only provides important monitoring but also counteracts isolation, enabling seniors and family members to see one another, share photos of family gatherings, and perhaps to share coffee each morning.
One drawback with remote monitoring systems is lack of privacy. “Some seniors have used a hanky to cover the camera,” Alwan said. “But privacy is relative, and most feel it’s an acceptable price to pay to avoid being institutionalized.”
The technologies featured include AT&T’s Remote Monitor, AttentiveCare, Digital Family Portrait, Dude’s Magic Box, GrandCare System, Home Guardian (now WellAware Systems, part of Healthsense, which was recently acquired by GreatCall), and QuietCare. Read the full article.