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Older People Want to Use Technology to Help Them Remain at Home

Saturday, March 29, 2008 General News J E 4
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Study finds people 65-plus willingness to try technology like sensors to detect falls and devices to regulate temperature, lights, and appliances, but cost, perception, and technical issues remain challenges



WASHINGTON, March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Older adults want to use technology so they can age safely in their home. Family caregivers agree believing technology can ease some of the challenges of caregiving. Concerns such as cost to install and maintain equipment remain barriers for people 65-plus and for caregivers. These are the conclusions of two new reports, one from AARP and the other from the Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA).



(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070209/NYF043LOGO )



The AARP Foundation commissioned this report which examined the attitudes of people 65-plus and caregivers towards technology and found that both groups are concerned about costs. The study identified a willingness to try technology like home security services, sensors to detect falls and devices to regulate temperature, lights and appliances. But cost remains a factor with seventy-five percent of caregivers and eighty percent of those 65-plus willing to pay $50.00 or less per month for the service.



"The ground is fertile for the use of caregiving technology to flourish," said Elinor Ginzler, AARP Sr. Vice President for Livable Communities. "Almost nine in ten older Americans want to be able to stay in their own homes and they are willing to use technology that can help them do that. Cost, however, is the elephant in the room--how to pay remains a big obstacle."



There is also a conflicting perspective between caregivers and those likely to need care. People 65-plus report a high willingness to use technology, but more than eight in ten caregivers believe they would have some, or a great deal of difficulty convincing those they care for to adopt technology. Large majorities of both caregivers and potential care recipients believe technology would make them feel safer, give them more personal peace of mind and provide peace of mind for families and friends.



The CAST study lays out the categories of technologies that exist to ease the burden of caregiving for informal and paid caregivers. These include:



-- Sensors can detect and notify a caregiver if a person being cared for does not get out of his chair or turn off the stove.

-- Health technologies can monitor blood pressure, respiration and other conditions in real time while the person is at home, reducing the need for doctor's visits and notifying caregivers immediately of significant changes.

-- Medication dispensers provide the appropriate medicines at the appropriate time and remind a person being cared for to take them.

-- Computer games provide social networking, brain stimulation and even monitoring of cognitive abilities through the use of diagnostic games.



The study also includes interviews with expert researchers, who concluded that factors ranging from interconnectivity between different systems to usability, affordability and the availability of technical support and training will determine how widespread aging services technologies can become.



"Our study shows that we can create a network of technology-driven services to help elders stay at home and achieve better outcomes," said Majd Alwan, PhD, director of CAST. "Technology can help create a new paradigm for caring for elders, and consumers should be as aware of these options as they are aware of their cell phone plans or cable television offerings."



Research commissioned and funded by Blue Shield of California Foundation to the AARP Foundation and the Center for Aging Services Technol
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