When you are working in a high press or have your own business you have a lot to deal with. If you find yourself in the position where a parent or other elderly relative needs support it can create additional stress and worry.
Thankfully, technology is already empowering the elderly to stay in their homes safely for longer. For example, loneliness can be alleviated through user-friendly smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers, which allow elderly people to chat to friends, relatives or healthcare professionals quickly and easily.
However, computers and smartphones are not suitable for everyone. Around 85% of the over 75s don’t have access to a smartphone and have no intention to do so. If your elderly relatives are in this category you’ll be glad to know that there are advanced technologies which are already allowing a lot of older people to live in relative independence.
AI-based assistive technology
New AI-based assistive technology is able to reduce the likelihood of injury and the risks of living at alone when the health, mobility and memory of older people begin to decline.
We’re all familiar with the panic buttons and pendants which are one way for the older person to alert the emergency services or family members. However, smart tech is also helping to overcome the challenges caused by immobility with a range of assistive technologies.
Robot vacuum cleaners, smartphone-controlled lights, doors and thermostats are already making living at home far more manageable. Or, for full independence and peace of mind, tiny sensors can be placed across the home to identify certain factors such as movement – or lack thereof.
miiCare – often dubbed ‘Alexa for the elderly’ – is an example of how technology can be used in this way and is a novel use of AI. Such technology can be used to predict and prevent the onset of health problems, falls and other accidents, and to alert the right people so they can assist.
Memory loss can see people forget to take their medicine, or take more than the required dose, for example. Now, electronic medicine dispensers, reminder clocks and mobile apps make it effortless for people to keep track.
Other telecare and telehealth devices such as blood pressure monitors, electronic scales and oximeters have new portable versions with their own mobile apps, allowing the user and their family to easily monitor health and vitals.
Memory loss can also be an issue when using potentially dangerous items such as irons or cookers. Devices, such as Inirv React, can connect cookers to a sensor in your home and to a smartphone app, automatically turning the appliance off if it hasn’t detected motion for a long time. The user can be reminded to return to the kitchen and a carer or family member alerted if there is a danger of fire.
The future of AI-based home care tech
Technology can be used to make home life easier for elderly people in a variety of different ways. And, considering how fast it evolves, I’m confident that technology will play a huge role in tackling the UK’s care crisis, as well as many global healthcare challenges.
Technology in the care model is already evolving to become ‘reactive’, rather than ‘preventative’. Early diagnostics allow the appropriate treatment plan to be put in place early enough to prevent the escalation of an illness to life-threatening conditions.
AI-based home care tech is also motivating people to lead a more healthy lifestyle by performing simple tasks such as reminding older people to hydrate, eat on time, take their medications, keep active, and other small, yet transformative actions.
Perhaps as soon as 2050, the roles of care homes and care workers will be diminished by advanced, AI-led assistive technology. I hope that such tech will allow older people to live in their homes for much longer.
Considering that our demographics are changing; there is an ageing population, a shortage of healthcare workers, and a high costs for residential care, the widespread availability of such technology cannot come soon enough.
In the meantime, elderly people are already able to stay at home far longer than would have even been imaginable ten years ago. And with a little help from technology, we can all hope to retain independence in our old age - and that’s another great reason to look forward to our golden years.
Kelvin Summoogum, Founder and CEO of miiCare, a tech start-up which uses an innovative AI-based solution to give elderly people the choice to live independently in their own homes. It mimics some of the human basic senses to create situational awareness and understand the health of a person, meaning that panic buttons or pendants are no longer required. Summoogum lost his grandmother from a hip fracture, following a fall at home. Help was only provided the next morning after hours spent in pain and agony. Often dubbed ‘the Amazon Echo for the elderly’, miiCare uses miiCUBE, an AI-powered assistive technology solution, which links with an ecosystem of sensors, wearable devices and telehealth equipment. As well as monitoring movement and the use of appliances, miiCare records the vitals of users – allowing for the early depiction of illnesses – acts as a voice-activated home security and entertainment system, and is even linked to a call centre of health professionals. @miiCAREuk