With an aging population, more of us help care for our parents — most of whom would prefer to live independently in their own homes. New technology is helping adult children and other caregivers help seniors live safely and happily.
HOME OUTFITTED WITH SENSORS
At 80, Mary Taylor believes there’s a new way to live independently, with dozens of sensors in the home. They monitor and chart virtually all of her movements within the home.
The sensors can tell if she’s fallen in the bathroom, if her kitchen range is left on too long, even if she’s spending too much time in bed or on the couch.
“It seemed to me that this kind of monitoring is a healthy thing to do,” said Taylor, who lives alone in her home.
There are no cameras, but the sensors will automatically alert caregivers if something goes wrong.
BRINGING HEALTH AND TECHNOLOGY TOGETHER
The system is called Always Near. It’s being developed by USF researchers through a corporate partnership and a grant from a regional technology organization.
It was developed by public health professor Carla Vanderweerd and engineering professor Ali Yalcin.
“It seemed like a perfect fit in terms of bringing health and technology together,” offered Vanderweerd.
It’s being tested at John Knox Village in Tampa, and final tests are scheduled this summer at The Villages in Lake County.
A WATCHFUL EYE
In addition to delivering alerts to caregivers via text or e-mail, the Always Near system allows the patient’s movements to be monitored by case workers. Developers envision a subscription-based service to consumers.
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