Smart homes for seniors
By Hook Law Center
Current offerings include Lively, a wireless monitoring device with accelerometers to detect movement, as well as pill bottles that indicate when it is time to take medication. Even small changes in daily habits can represent significant changes in health, so the potential applications of such devices are substantial.
Experts envision a wide range of other smart devices in the future, such as furniture that monitors vital signs and carpets that analyze walking patterns to identify changes in physical health. Some such devices have already made their way into technology expos, but have some way to go until they are widely adopted. Keeping sensors unobtrusive and easy to install will be key to promoting widespread adaptation.
As 78 million Baby Boomers continue to age, there will be an increased demand for such devices, both from seniors and from their caregivers. Smart homes promise to provide a higher level of independence over a longer period of time, an appealing prospect for independent Boomers.
Supplementing in-person care giving with technology is also appealing from a practical perspective. According to a recent AARP report, in 2010 there were 7.2 middle-age caregivers for every 80-year-old. By 2050, that number will decline to 2.9. If the home is able to serve as an early detection system, alerting family and health care providers of key changes, it may be able to ease the strain on the health care system.