Technology helps care for independent seniors

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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.


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.

Examples of sensors and devices used to help keep seniors safe at home.

Examples of sensors and devices used to help keep seniors safe at home.

“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.




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.

Carla VandeWeerd, PhD

Carla VandeWeerd, PhD

“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.




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.

For the full story and video, visit My Fox Orlando.

Dr. Carla VandeWeerd is an assistant professor in the USF College of Public Health and associate director of The Harrell Center.

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