We all know we’re going to get old eventually – whether we want to or not – and while having more birthdays also means more experiences, there are some downsides. One of these is the possibility of losing some of our independence as the advancing years catch up on us, which can cause problems on a daily basis.
A combination of worrying family members and generally being less able in some areas can mean that older people can’t stay in their own homes. However, Singapore may have found the answer to this with a new range of smart homes.
The new project is aiming to allow older people to maintain their independence while also increasing their safety and privacy by using motion sensors. Researchers fitted one-bedroom apartments with 50 motion sensors to pick up on “unusual periods of inactivity”.
Volunteers or medical professionals are then given the information so they can ensure that the resident is safe, as inactive periods could suggest health problems or a fall. Pilot homes also had panic buttons installed to allow residents to call for help themselves if something is wrong.
Associate professor Tan Hwee Pink from Singapore Management University said: “The reason we monitor inactivity is that there are situations where the person might not have access to the button. If the person is in the toilet and has fallen, he or she has probably left the panic button outside.
“In this case, the system will detect that the last activity was in the toilet and that there was no motion afterwards. After a certain period of inactivity, an alert will be sent to the caregivers.”
Project SHINESeniors is helping to find a solution to the ageing population in Singapore by developing a way that means it is safe for elderly people to stay in their own houses rather than having to move into residential homes or start living with family members.
The initial trial of the technology lasted three years and got positive results. Researchers are now hoping that more smart homes are going to be built throughout Singapore. The advances could also be used in other countries to help the elderly retain their independence and stay safe.