Technology is changing how we age and how we care…
Only a few years ago, automated smart homes and artificial intelligence (AI) devices seemed more suited for the Jetsons than for the ordinary Canadian. Today, thanks to Google Home, Alexa, Apple Watches, and GPS tracking, smart devices are now a fast-growing consumer trend and are accessible to most Canadians.
Home automation, in particular, has been adopted by many, not only for convenience but also for its many applications to enhance home security. It only takes a trip to Costco to find popular devices such as video doorbells, smart security cameras, motion sensors, and solutions for the automation of lights, thermostats and any electric home appliance through voice, remote control, tablet or smartphones.
Wearable smart devices have also exploded on the market with the “smart watch” as the most ubiquitous example─an all-in-one device small enough to fit on your wrist.
Welcomed help for caregivers
Families who are caring for ageing relatives are taking advantage of all the tech help they can get. Smart home technology means that caregivers now have tools to monitor from a distance their loved ones in their home environment, and have access to various new products that can help prevent injuries and send alerts in case of a fall or an emergency.
If you are currently caring for an elderly parent that still lives at home, here are some helpful devices that you may want to consider if you are not using them already:
- Alexa /Google home
Used for medication reminders, alarms, control of lights and appliances. Settings can be scheduled in advance or in real time by the caregiver remotely.
- Smart TV / Apple TV
Remote access can allow a caregiver to turn the TV on or off, change channels and settings remotely in advance or in real time.
- Nest thermostat
Remote access to home temperature. A caregiver can track the temperate and adjust as needed.
- Nest camera
A video camera that streams live all day. A caregiver can monitor and communicate with a loved one in real time in case of emergency.
- Nest doorbell
A caregiver can remotely monitor who is entering or leaving her house and communicate with them. This is particularly useful for families caring for someone with dementia that wanders.
- GPS tracker
A caregiver can tack a small device onto the loved one’s shoes or any wearable article and monitor movements remotely. This is also very useful for caregivers whose loved ones are at risk of leaving the home and getting lost.
- ActiveProtective Smart Belt
A wearable item is worn around the waist that deploys an airbag in the event of a fall, protecting the hips and reducing the risk of a fracture.
- Personal Emergency Response System
In care of an emergency, a loved one can notify paramedics or a caregiver at the touch of a button.
- Fall prevention lighting
Wireless sensory lighting that is placed in even hard to navigate places of your house. These sensor lights can be left on or in motion sensor mode and are monitored remotely.
- Smart watches
Wearable technology such as the Apple 4 smart Watch offers fall detection, electrocardiogram monitor, two-way communication, GPS tracking, a large screen and more.
Canadian research leads the way
Canadian researchers and scientists have contributed significantly to technology that is changing the lives of seniors. Government funding such as the recent 3.5 million awarded to the AGE-WELL National Innovation Hub by Western Economic Diversification Canada ensures that our scientists remain at the leading edge of this field.
Dr. Jesse Hoey, a computer and cognitive scientist at the University of Waterloo, is testing a virtual assistant called ACT@Home that would verbally prompt Alzheimer patients for simple daily tasks such as hand washing, taking medication, dressing, etc. What would differentiate this artificial intelligence from others is the ability to customize instructions with how a person with Alzheimer’s feels and is thinking. Their work is being conducted in collaboration with two long-term care facilities, Schlegel Villages and the Research Institute for Aging in Waterloo as well as Tapestry Retirement Living in Vancouver.
Find out more on Act@Home at AgeWell
Biomedical engineer Alex Mihailidis leads a team of scientists and medical experts in a project funded by the Alzheimer Association that is developing artificial intelligence for seniors living at home. A notable application of this AI is the “talking bathroom” that uses sensors throughout the bathroom that monitor and interpret movement and a video screen that gently prompts and demonstrates tasks such as hand washing, brushing teeth, etc.
Find out more on Alex Mihaukudus at Youareunltd
Canadian researcher professors Lili Liu and Eleni Stroulia are developing a new virtual remote monitoring technology that has important applications for helping seniors live independently at home. This unique technology collects movement data and operates with advanced inference algorithms to identify any potential adverse events, such as depression, anxiety, heart failure, or any behavioural pattern that indicates a problem.
Find out more on the Smart Condo™ at University of Alberta
When technology is not enough
At Home Care Assistance Vancouver, the safety, security and well being of our clients is our main concern, which is why all Home Care Assistance caregivers undergo a thorough background check and have access to state of the art industry training.
Should you need assistance in caring for your loved ones, one of our case managers can help you assess your needs and propose a care plan. Call us for your complimentary in-home consultation at (778)-715-5134
To learn more about our services, visit Home Care Assistance Vancouver at www.homecareassistancevancouver.ca, servicing the Greater Vancouver area.