Loneliness from being disconnected from friends and family, fears about health and safety and worries about security are some of the many burdens of old age. European Union-funded researchers are proving how technology can alleviate the problems.
“When I am less worried, I do not think about the fact that I am alone”: the words of an older Swedish person who participated in a recent trial of European technology that supports active ageing.
Like the person quoted above - who, according to carers, now talks about “Ambient assisted-living” (AAL) technology “a lot” - dozens of older people across Europe have recently experienced firsthand the benefits of information and communication technology (ICT) applications that can make them feel safer and more secure, monitor their health and help them stay in touch with family and friends.
As part of the “Mainstreaming on ambient intelligence” (Monami) project, more than 80 elderly people living alone and in care homes in Spain, Slovakia and Sweden tested a wide range of AAL applications.
'The user feels much better - he went to the patio to plant flowers because he feels safer with the panic button. He is willing to engage in more activities due to Monami,” said one carer involved in the Slovakian trial.
The trialled services use sensors, actuators and smart software as part of an ambient intelligent environment that communicates with users and carers via alarms, television, computers or mobile devices. The services were run on Monami's innovative open software platform, which allows bundles of applications to be easily installed and tailored to individual users' needs, overcoming the interoperability, customisation and scalability issues that have often hampered the roll out of AAL systems to date.
With applications such as DoorSure, WindowSure and DoorVue older trial users of the Monami system were automatically alerted if their door or windows were left unlocked and they could check via a camera who was ringing the bell. With AppSure they were reminded if they had left the kettle or cooker on. And with PresenceVUE and SUREZone carers were alerted in the event of an accident, a health problem or if something in the home appeared to be amiss.
REHACARE.de; Source: Swedish Institute of Assistive Technology