New Technologies to Help Seniors Age in Place

Old woman's handAging in place is what virtually all seniors want to do in their later years, and experts are continually striving to develop technology that will keep seniors safe at home. Read on to learn about current technology. Thanks for visiting Advocare

How do you keep Grandma safe from falls without making her feel like someone’s watching her every move?

As the population grows older in many parts of the world, engineers and health experts are searching for new ways to prevent elderly people from injuring themselves at home. In doing so, they hope to keep people in their homes longer, a concept known as aging in place.

The technology to help make this happen has improved. But researchers also must factor in whether seniors will be able to or willing to use the devices. Current methods include wearable alarms, which usually must be activated by the person after an injury, and optical devices, such as videocameras, that can be intrusive.

The technology “has to fit the cultural ethics of the aging population,” says Cathy Bodine, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver. “We’re not always taking that into consideration.”

Falling is the leading cause of death by injury in those aged 65 and older, with 1 in 3 seniors falling each year. Falls can cause hip fractures and head wounds, increasing risk of earlier death, and induce fear that can reduce mobility, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 72 million Americans—nearly 1 in 5—will be 65 and older by 2030, up from 1 in 8 in 2009, according to the government’s Administration on Aging.

That has sparked scientists’ quest to design better systems for getting help quickly to elderly people who have fallen. They’re also working to find ways to prevent the falls in the first place.

Some researchers are studying how to adapt radar technology, which has been used for years to catch highway speeders and in weather forecasting, to applications for assisted living. Others are testing the 3-D sensors used in gaming systems like the Xbox to develop nonintrusive alert systems.

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