Many studies have demonstrated the economic and health benefits of telehealth in aged care, yet the take-up remains patchy. Darragh O Keeffe and Natasha Egan report on the reasons why, and what’s needed to change it.
At this stage they are like old friends. We are all intimately familiar with the gadgets and gismos promising us independence in our old age; a dazzling array of sensors, monitors, alerts and alarms.
And yet despite the promise, and the body of research that confirms their usefulness and cost effectiveness, these assistive technologies remain largely underutilised in the aged care system.
Those working in the field say it is now possible to build a home that virtually supports older people to live independently, but, as with any innovation, it is not yet cost effective for the majority.
“I would think in the next five to 10 years that capability will be an accepted part of the installation in any elder person’s home who wishes to remain at home safely,” says Deborah McKern, business development director with Seasons Aged Care.
The next generation of smart homes will be programmed to respond to activity such as time and weather, McKern says. They will cause lights to go on and off, blinds to go up and down, temperature to adjust appropriately, meals to be heated and “pop open” when they’re ready to eat. “We will see this becoming available in the next decade as people continue to age.”
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