Assistive Technology and how it can help Irelands seniors to Age in Place - An Introduction

At Ageing in Place we are keen advocates of technology and how it can help Irish seniors, care givers and family members stay connected. New developments in assistive technology span a wide range of capability and functionalities. Many of us will have been familiar with the traditional panic alarm, perhaps the first technology designed for senior adults living alone. Technlogy has come a long way since then particularly in the areas of wearables, motion sensors and diagnostics . So what does this advancement in assistive technology mean for Irish seniors and what does this mean for the care giving and ageing in place sectors?

What is assistive technology for seniors?

Assistive technology is technology that can be placed within the home to help reassure both end users and loved ones that help is at hand should they ever need it. As much as we would all like to be available 24/7 we know it’s not possible .

This technology can support elderly people living alone, or people who spend lage periods of the day without immediate access to family and friends . It can help eldelry people who may be worried about falling or having a medical incident and not being physcially able to reach out for help. The technology also has a social element meaning that devices such as an ipad or smart TV can be used to talk and interact with family & friends.

Who can this technology help?

The various assistive technology products and services that are coming on stream for the seniors market are still very much in their infancy. While there are undoubtedly a whole range of people across the medical and age care sector that this technology can help and support, we wanted to focus in on two groups in particular:

 

  1. Elderly people in need of support, who also want to maintain their independence.
  2. Families and carer network who want reassurance that the elderly person in their care is well, when they cannot be physically together.

From an end users perspective: The user may worry that if something happened to them or perhaps they couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, then how long would it be before someone noticed. This gives reassurance that people would know before too long and help given. End users may also feel that family are constantly checking in on them and this can make people feel as if they are a burden.

From a family or carer perspective, when it comes to caring for a loved one who is living independently the first thing we do as carers is think  “are they out of bed, did they get down the stairs safely, have they taken their medication this morning . Making that first call each morning to a loved one living on their own is worrying and stressful.  

Assistive technology can alleviate the worry and fears for both the end users and care givers by utilisng sensors and connected apps to relay messages that everything is ok. This can mean greater independence, and less worry and stress for both parties.

How does this technology work

Assistive technology for seniors is a fast moving sector, and updates and improvements to the technology as well as integration capability is advancing all the time. In a broad sense the technology has been designed to be unintrusive and contactless, meaning that it does not impact day to day activities .

A range of items from front door bells , to pressure mats, stairlifts and medical dispensers can all be connected to a tech care hub and this in turn can be connected to range of apps. Depending on the partialur case, this can also be connected in a telecare alarm monitoring service that would have the capability of seeing that a pattern has been broken and this can result in a call or alarm being activated.

What are the benefits of this technology to the user

When considering the benefits of the technology it is important to point out that most of the technology available has been designed to be as discreet as possible. Technology and in particular technology aimed at the seniors market, needs to be maintenance free and discreet and any tech that is not, will not be adopted.

From what we have seen at ageing in place, most of the technology that we have reviewed, has been designed to be easy to use . The benefits of this technology to users include: 

  1. Tech enables people to “get on” with everyday life
  2. Peace of mind that relatives are not worrying about them all the time
  3. Reassured that if help is needed – it is at hand
  4. No need for pendants, alarms, cameras or microphones around the home 
  5. Personal information never shared with external companies 
  6. You select your own ‘circle of care’



Who is buying assistive technology and why?

While many customers will purchase the tech from a functional and emotional perspective, there is clearly economic factors also, as to why this technology is now being widely adopted, and is expected to become a standard feature in future . The COVID pandemic and the severe impact on nursing homes in Ireland,  has forced many Irish seniors or those family carers who care for an eldery relative  to re-evaluate how and where they age, and many will see home adaptations and assistive technology as the conduit to safely ageing at home . 

 

The technology is surprisingly affordable, given the functionality and capability, and the overall gains it can bring to the end user and their circle of care. Most assistive technology  suppliers offer a free trial period and the technology can then be paid on a monthly subscription basis. As with any subscription, cancelling is easy. 

Summary

The purchase and installation of assistive technology for seniors, is an extremely emotional purchase for both end users and concerned family members. Both end users and care givers will go through very different emotions when researching and considering the technology as an option, and then actually having the technology installed. 

If we look at assistive technology in the context of the motivation to purchase,  the majority of customers will buy this technology because they are looking for either reassurance or independence. This technology, when installed in the home can meet both of these objectives. 

At ageinginplace.ie we believe that technology and in particular assistive technology for seniors, can play a critical role in the overall circle of care and in helping Irish senior adults age at home. The challenge in terms of how its adopted by the Irish public will not be the technology itself, but how the proposition and benefits of these are communicated. 

We can arrange to have an age tech advisor talk you about the process . Visit our assistive technology page here and get started. 

About ageinginplace.ie: Ageing in place is a new digital platform that aims to provide clear and accurate information about the products, services and financial supports that are available to enable barrier free and independent living in your own home.

The portal is designed to give you easy access to all the information you need in one place to enable you to evaluate your options, check your eligibility for grant supports and should you wish to contact contractors in your local area. 

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