Seniors Using High-Tech Sensor Networks in Homes

A recent CNN report shows that some seniors are using technology to stay independent without sacrificing their safety.

Sensor networks, which are common in hospitals and assisted living centers, have found their way into the homes of some older Americans. The high-tech systems collect information about a person’s daily habits and conditions, then relay that information in real-time to doctors or family members.

These systems may give seniors a chance to live independently as long as possible, by monitoring their motion, vital signs, and even whether or not they are taking their medications. All of this connects wirelessly and motion sensors can discreetly be placed in the mattresses, doors, or refrigerators of any room.

The technology comes with a hefty price- only a few boutique companies in the U.S. sell the systems and installation fees can be as high as $5,500. Monthly monitoring fees of $300 or $400 a month are also common. But the benefits may be worth it for some seniors. Early indications show that doctors may be able to spot Alzheimer’s, dementia, and indications that a person is susceptible to falls by monitoring their daily lives.

he popularity of these devices may be slowed by a lack of formal research and serious legal implications. Privacy advocates warn that data collected from a third party is susceptible to being subpoenaed by your insurance company, employer, or the IRS.

In the meantime, the trend of using science to monitor seniors will continue. University researchers are testing robots that help take care of older people, keep them company, and even give them sponge baths.

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