– As worldwide population is growing older every year, it is a common sense question to ask “how will I take care of my elders?“
In order to give them a decent way of living, some specialists and engineers have intended to find some innovative solutions to grant them dignity and autonomy.
With the benefit of hindsight, digital healthcare and digital housing have been really efficient answer to that –
- Aging of population
A huge amount of studies show that in every countries, especially in Europe (the old continent) the medium age is increasing quite fast. Referring to the INSEE (the French economics and statistics institute) in about 50 years there will be an 80% increase of more than 60 years old persons. The aging pyramid (from the INSEE) shows no equilibrium between the different age classes. In a nutshell, this aging is due to the Baby-boom after the Second World War.
It is then our obligation to grant these people some security, dignity and simplicity in their every day life.
- Benefit from staying at home
Aging can also mean a decreasing mobility and the need of outer help to fulfill domestic tasks. As they want to stay at home, our goal is to find some ways to sustain their needs without the feeling of a constant monitoring. Here domotics is entering into scene.
Using domotic to check on the eldest could be proven to be much cheaper than a specialised house. Even though special devices can cost a lot, they would remain a one shot investment. That would also reduce transportation fees as those induced by ambulances or special car companies dedicated to this type of commuting.
- Domotic and digital healthcare system
There are 2 main ways to put domotic at use for the elderly. On one side, for those who are facing diseases like cancer, diabetes, chronical heart or lungs illness. In this configuration connected devices are able to monitor the user 24 hours a day. Collected data is then sent through the Internet to the assigned specialist who will be informed if there is an alert. The doctor will also be able to control medical prescriptions and dosage with connected pumps.
Thanks to this installation, the patient will be controlled from his home. Supposing a huge amount of money, this would be reserved for the sickest ones.
On another side domotic can also prevent users from harming themselves or check if they are evolving in normal condition. By remote monitoring, some new intelligent devices will allow the family or a special organism to check if the user is acting as usual.
For example, placing a movement detector under the bed will transfer information to the family or an accredited organism about the activity of the elder. So, an alarm will be placed if something abnormal happens.
On both applications there are some issues to face. Regardless of the price, such a technology deployment could make the user feel as he is in prison. Much more important is the fact that the elder would be bound to use these technologies. For the eldest ones, that would be out of the question even when facing real necessity. Although as the new generation is already acclimated to computers and the digital world, there will be far less reluctance. Towards this public, some companies have developed some user friendly interfaces to help them deal with their computing gap.
On a technical side, all of these machines will create, send and receive data. We would be here facing the protection of personal medical data. European law being far from accuracy in this domain, it would be the job of the Commission to improve this field.
We can just hope that this brilliant application of digital technology won’t be harmed by any legislation and that the infrastructures required will settle well.
Étudiant en M2 Droit des nouvelles technologies à l’Université de Strasbourg, je suis en attente perpétuelle des innovations aux services de l’Humain et contribuant à l’évolution raisonnée