The Use of Assistive Technology in Retirement Communities

More baby boomers are leaving active employment when they are still relevant and able to do some work. Most of them have young children that are capable and willing to take care of them. Thus, many of them are joining retirement communities for that independent but assisted living. The communities have been investing in technology to spice up an otherwise boring retirement life, and enable remote monitoring of the elderly, whether living on-campus or in the larger community.

Most retirees have been working with computers and other devices for most of their career lives. Thus, they are still able to work on the devices to achieve what they want. To this end, the retirement homes are setting up computer labs and others campus-wide Wi-Fi solutions to enable the elderly to access the internet on their own devices, or in computer labs. The internet enables the elderly to keep updated with what is happening, and communicate more easily with their families.

For example, a while ago, a few retirement homes had placed a few video conferencing systems where the elderly would call their loved ones. However, the new iPad app, FaceTime, has enabled most of them to call at will, provided that their devices are connected to the internet. Other retirees are now offering remote consultancy in their respective careers to keep themselves occupied in their sunset days.

Health is also an important consideration to most of retirees and their families, so while still maintaining their independence, there is a need to monitor emergency situations such as a fall, leaving the house at unusual hours, personal safety, proper feeding and toileting, and ensuring that all prescribed medication is taken at the right time and in the proper dosage. Several technologies have been floated to enable remote monitoring. For example, there are remote health monitoring solutions where a nurse visits the elderly and views their medical history. Then, several automated sensors are placed at home. First, a door motion detector is installed to monitor his or her movements in and out of the house. In addition, there is an automated call every morning to check his or her status. One is given options to respond by pressing certain keys. If one does not respond, the system calls the designated nurse. There are also wearable pendants that enable the elderly to summon assistance when they need it. More advanced systems in pendants and bed detectors monitor changes in sleeping, toileting, and eating. All this information is then accessible to the trusted party. There are also developments in robot technology, with applications to assist the elderly in their daily living.

Technology goes a long way in ensuring that the elderly live happy, independent lives, while at the same time receiving timely assistance when they need it. The increased need for assistive technology to take care of people can be viewed as a positive development.

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