Remote monitoring and smart home technologies are increasingly talked about as having an important part to play in providing ways to help older adults age in place. Being able to support someone staying in their own home as they either recover and manage a health condition or as they simply age and may need a little more attention paid to their health and wellness reaps benefits for both the person themselves, the people who are caring for them and the health ecosystem.
Looking back at A New York Times article from 2009 reminded me that these aging in place technologies are not new, and there have been big changes in the technology between then and now.
In 2007 there were some pioneering companies who were making products to help older adults stay at home as they recovered from, or managed ongoing, health conditions. Early adopters were open to being monitored to track changes to an existing disease state and help manage compliance with medications.
The initial results from various trials of aging in place remote monitoring technologies showed a range of positives including for those managing care resources in an older adult assisted living facility, monitoring data was able to help prioritize who is in an emergency need today and would need more assistance than usual. Helping caregivers spend less time guessing if people had taken their medications, moved around enough today and for them to receive alerts when things looked less “normal” than they had been.
We are fortunate that today in 2019, 10 years later, we are in a climate where there are now new medical codes that can be applied to support much more of the in-home care ecosystem of devices and services. As a monitoring and information provider ourselves, we are constantly working to surface the most relevant information at the right time for the right person to make the Hestia system as valuable to the user as possible. Diligently helping older adults remain independent safely and healthily for as long as they choose.
We are excited for the next 10 years as robotics enter the myriad of solutions being developed to support aging in place. Robots as tools for helping give care and support older adults have had positive results with cohorts who are cognitively impaired. Paro robots are being issued to residents of nursing facilities.
One of the first shifts that happens as you age is the perceived, or actual, impairment of being able to take care of someone else. As physical and mental reflexes slow down, caring for others becomes challenging; but caring is a critical human function, an innate “need” that we have as humans. Providing care gives purpose, and gives meaning to your life. Paro, creates meaning for those who may be confused as to how they fit in today’s world. Paro is a robot designed to support a very specific cognitive disease. However, as the robot evolves it could be possible to share the touch information of the owner with caregivers/nurses as aggression could be indicated by being rough with the robot for example.
Robots that are able to understand some basic emotional cues and are able to trigger outreach or social connection between the older adults and their friends/family are coming to market. ElliQ from Intuition Robotics. Loneliness is one of the biggest killers, with a lonely person’s health being affected in the same way as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
What excites Inhabitech is that all of these technologies can work together to create, hopefully, a seamless and smooth experience for older adults so that they are able to remain where they choose – in their own homes, in their assisted living retirement community, off the grid – and be able to have insights into their health and wellness to help manage existing conditions or to simply track health and wellness over time.