In “New Technologies for Aging in Place” by Athan Bezaitis, he writes, “New developments in technology promise to help transition healthcare from expensive clinical settings into private residences, encourage behavioral modifications that emphasize prevention rather than treatment of illnesses, and make it easier for family caregivers to monitor loved ones and take action in case of an emergency.”
Collaboration between businesses and university research centers around the country are driving a lot of the development of these technologies for housing, healthcare and general improved lifestyle. Highlighted in the article are current technologies, soon to be released and those in development, which include:
- Intelligent Toilets that test sugar levels and blood pressure.
- Mobile monitoring systems that keep track of a loved ones daily movements.
The biggest challenge for most people who want to age in their own home is their home. Going up and down stairs, using the bathroom and simply getting in and out of the house are major obstacles.
- MIT is developing a Legos type of system for interior customization using a chassis model (inspired from the automobile, electronics, aviation and ship building industries) that can reconfigure a home to meet the occupant’s needs.
Technology used for behavior modification to help maintain independence.
- USC working with doctors to create “smart spectacles” so the visually impaired can get around their home.
- Researchers are working on technology “coaches” to help with lifestyle choices by creating awareness and providing feedback.
- UCLA researchers have created a handheld video game to keep brains sharp.
Accessible and easy will be the key to acceptance. “The reality remains,” says Bezaitis, “that no matter how wired, sensored, or digitized the homes of the future become, new technologies will need to be accessible and user friendly in order for people like my grandmother to adopt them.”