Smart technologies for older people
Addressing the challenges faced by an ageing population, this report discusses how smart technologies can support older people to remain in their homes.
Australia has an ageing population. In 1901 the average life expectancy in Australia was 47 years. By 2025 it will be over 80. In 2050, 25% of Australians will be aged over 65, with 5% over 85. The growing number of older Australians leads to increased demand for aged services in health, social support, transport and housing.
The effects of population ageing are enduring, placing increasing pressure on budgets to meet future demand. Lead Author, Professor Meg Morris, Head of School of Physiotherapy is aware of the problems and warns, "We will not return to the young populations that our ancestors knew."
However, the use of smart technologies can lower the demand and cost for aged care services by allowing older Australians to remain in their homes longer.
The Smart Technologies for Older People report surveys the current literature on the use of smart technologies to support ageing across the globe adding a valuable resource to the policy debate.
Findings from the report note the changing demographics of the older Australians. The "new aged" such as the baby boomers, will have better financial resources and higher levels of education than previous generations. They will possess large purchasing power, be strong advocates as consumers and as patients, and will want to be fit, active, mobile, safe, connected and self reliant.
Smart technologies can support older people by promoting independence, quality of life and wellbeing. Smart technologies support delivery of a range of products and services over devices such as tablets, phones, computers, TVs, virtual reality "gaming" systems, and sensor networks. Additionally, smart technologies allow for the delivery of telemedicine services to older people, prolonging the period they can remain living at home.
"Monitoring and treatment of chronic diseases can be of higher quality. Rehabilitation and many health and social care services can be received in the home setting. The internet can support and strengthen the elder's possibilities to take part in society, communicate with the healthcare system, and access social arenas," says Professor Morris.
Technologies, such as those used in "smart homes" or tracking solutions, can relieve the pressure on caregivers and support their caring work. Administrative technology can help nurses and health professionals be more effective and do a more focused job, where more time can be dedicated to direct contact with patients and to health related tasks.
"Smart technologies are available to enhance safety, security and surveillance. Despite major investments by governments and industry partners to devise these technologies, their translation to use by older Australians has arguably been fragmented and uptake is still currently low. The roll out of the National Broadband Network offers a unique opportunity to link Australians with state-of-the-art technologies with the potential to improve health, well being and quality of life."
Meg Morris, PhD
Chair Physiotherapy, The University of Melbourne
Elizabeth Ozanne, PhD
Associate Professor, Social Work, The University of Melbourne
Kim Miller, PhD
Senior Lecturer Physiotherapy, The University of Melbourne
Nick Santamaria, PhD
Chair Translational Nursing, The University of Melbourne
Alan Pearce, PhD
Senior Research Fellow, Deakin University
Catherine Said, PhD
Research Fellow Physiotherapy, The University of Melbourne
Brooke Adair, B.Phys
Research Assistant, The University of Melbourne