Older People to Live Well at Home


Older People to Live Well at Home

Improved health and social care over recent years has increased life expectancy worldwide. As a result nearly 7% of the world’s population is now over 65 years of age. The proportion of older people is predicted to rise approximately 20% by 2050 worldwide. The increasing number and proportion of older adults requires a greater focus on policies and resources to meet their needs. Smart home technologies encourage and allow elderly people to live longer in their own homes. Increased longevity is often associated with increased susceptibility to diseases and injury.

Chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are common in older adults. Falls and injuries are also more common in elderly people. It has been predicted that by 2035, the proportion of people with dementia will double and by 2050, the number of fulltime carriers will have tripled. With the current trends in population demographics, it is becoming increasingly difficult for governments worldwide to fully support the health and social care systems. The use of smart technologies, including smart-homes could arguably relieve the pressure on aged care health and social support services.

Smart homes are purpose designed living spaces that provide interactive technologies and unobtrusive support systems to enable people to enjoy a higher level of independence, activity, participation or well-being than otherwise afforded. The smart homes movement links together the fields of housing, technology, engineering, sociology, and healthcare in relation to robotics, sensors, tele-health, ergonomics, communications, social care and safety. Home based smart technologies can sometimes enable people to live in their own home rather than being hospitalized or institutionalized. Smart-home technologies can also promote independent living and safety. This has the potential to optimize quality of life and reduce the stress on agedcare facilities and other health resources. The challenge with smart-home technologies is to create a home environment that is safe and secure to reduce falls, disability, stress, fear or social isolation.

Contemporary smart home technology systems are versatile in function and user friendly. Smart home technologies usually aim to perform functions without disturbing the user and without causing any pain, inconvenience or movement restrictions. Martin and colleagues performed a preliminary analysis of the acceptance of smart-home technologies. The results from this review were limited as no studies met inclusion criteria. Given however, the rapid progression of new smart home technologies, a new systematic review of the literature is required. This paper addresses that need by analysing the range of studies undertaken to assess the impact of these technologies on the quality of life experienced by an ageing population accessing these supports. The broader context incorporates consideration of the social and emotional well-being needs of this population.

John George
Journal of Aging Science