Technology should be exploited for the benefit of the elderly
The world is getting older. Many countries are experiencing a decline in births and their citizens are getting older. Old age brings mobility problems, slower reflexes, weakening of the senses and weaker bodies especially among elderly people who live alone.
So, what should we be looking out for in this modern world when the elderly end up living alone?
I have identified four points – mental health, physical health, social isolation, nutrition and environment. When we talk about mental health, we are referring to solitude, the elderly forgetting to take their medication or pay their bills or turn up for appointments; dementia and depression. When I talk about physical health what comes to mind is the loss of sight, hearing, mobility and how the elderly feel in general. We also talk about social isolation where an elderly person is not integrated in the community or is not visited by their family or carer. One must also check that the elderly person is eating daily. Apart from all this, I think that the elderly are also affected by their environment, for example by changes in temperature and noise in general.
In my opinion, these aspects need to be checked upon regularly to avoid putting the lives of elderly persons at risk. The elderly should be given practical advice to help safeguard their welfare. The family members of elderly people should also be presented with tools to help them monitor and help elderly people who live far away from them without invading their privacy. This is where smart technology comes in; particularly smart sensors the potential of which should be better exploited.
We could mention sensors that monitor the movements of an elderly person that indicates whether they are active. If there appears to have been no movement for a significant period, the elderly person could be contacted by relatives or, why not, by the Local Council, and emergency measures could be taken if necessary. Another sensor could be placed on the fridge door to let a carer know whether an elderly person has eaten. This is a useful tool for people with dementia.
Smart technology presents a huge opportunity to increase the quality of life for elderly persons; make up for mental and physical weaknesses that old age brings and ensure the safety of elderly persons while respecting their wish for independence. Technology used to safeguard elderly people using smart applications could help them live longer in the comfort of their own home.