Most Australians want to be able to remain in their own home as they age. In the past, this hasn’t always been possible due to declining health and care needs. However, thanks to great leaps in technology, many people are now able to stay in their homes for longer while staying safe – and giving family members peace of mind.

With long waits for Home Care Packages, a shortage of Aged Care workers and the overarching uncertainly around the quality of Aged Care in Australia, technology can provide a solution. 

The use of technology, whether it’s a stop-gap/temporary solution to keep you safe while you’re waiting for a Home Care Package, or a longer term holistic solution, such as a complete smart home, is making it possible for many older Australians to stay at home. 

Being able to continue living at home through the help of assisted-living technology is essential to wellbeing and allows people to maintain their independence with dignity.

Top 8: The most exciting senior Home Care technologies!

1. Virtual reality

Virtual reality is an incredible piece of technology! It uses three-dimensional video to create realistic experiences or simulations of a particular environment. For example, you could ‘visit’ the pyramids of Egypt or take a tour of the Louvre in Paris and feel like you are actually there! Through the use of specialised equipment, such as sensored gloves and a mask or helmet with a screen inside, it creates an experience that feels very real indeed.

Virtual reality creates innovative opportunities for both physical and cognitive stimulation and can have a huge benefit, particularly in the era of a pandemic when actual physical travel is limited. 

2. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the non-human intelligence of machines and technology systems. AI uses things like voice and speech recognition, language processing and problem solving to ‘learn’ more about the person using the technology. In Home Care, AI can help to understand if someone is sad or lonely and can produce responses to help with this. AI can detect changes and abnormalities in behaviour that might indicate something is wrong – it can then send alerts to relevant people such as caregivers, medical services, family or friends.

3. Wearables

Wearable devices, such as personal alarms and smart watches can not only monitor general activity but many can also detect falls or other health incidents. If something happens, help will be at hand straight away and all relevant medical staff and family members will know exactly what’s happening. 

4. Smart home devices

‘Smart homes’ are becoming much more common! If mobility or dexterity is a problem, setting up your home to do some things for you is easy. You can install lights that can be times to come on and turn off, alarms that can be automatically set, heating and cooling that comes on when you need it – and much more! All of this can be controlled through your smartphone, tablet or computer, either by yourself or by a loved one.

5. Floor sensors & fall monitoring

Falls are one of the biggest concerns for older adults living at home, particularly if they are living alone. Thanks to technology, you can now have sensors placed under your floors which will detect any falls or disturbances in your home and will alert all relevant people. They also monitor movement and can pick up when movement is less or has stopped, indicating there may be a problem.

6. Medication management

Managing medication can become difficult, especially for anyone who has some memory difficulties or cognitive decline. ‘Smart pills’ have been developed to try and monitor adherence to taking medications, as for many conditions, skipping medication can have disastrous consequences. A ‘smart pill’ is a pill that is enabled with a sensor which activates once it hits the stomach and sends an alert to an external device such as a phone. In this way, doctors and family can see when a pill has been taken – and can act quickly if it hasn’t. Smart pills haven’t taken off yet, mostly due to the fact that the cost is high.

There are also many apps and systems available that can help carers and family members to monitor and stay on top of medication adherence.

7. Connectivity

Staying connected to others and feeling a sense of community is hugely important for anyone, regardless of age. There are now a huge number of ways in which you can do this! From simple chat and messaging groups via Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, through to video call technologies such as Zoom and Teams, you can now stay connected in more ways than ever before. You can even watch movies together through things like Netflix Party.

8. Apps

There are so many apps available to help with anything from emergency situation alerts through to brain training and finding the nearest public toilet!!

Read more about the best apps available for seniors.