Aging in Place and Technology #4

by Louis on October 6, 2008

Interactive Medical and Social Connections

The next step in high technology and Aging in Place is interactive medical and social connection. Thinking of older citizens in rural locations help us understand how valuable this can be. It is time consuming, sometimes dangerous, often expensive and typically inconvenient for rural older folks to travel to a doctor or a senior center. It is also inefficient for nurses to visit rural patients. This is an obvious place for technology to fill the gap- where the gaps are literally miles wide.

Scenarios run from ‘appointments’ where the client attaches a blood pressure cuff to a computer and joins a video conference with health professionals to conference calls, chat rooms, etc. The possibilities from telehealth are only limited by your imagination. Research abounds with some of the most advanced trials and clinical uses through the Veterans Administration.

Two organizations dedicated to developing this facet of Aging in Place are Healthcare Unbound and CAST. You might say these two come from different points on a circle of technology and opportunity for Aging in Place. Like many players that will have roles in Aging in Place they are converging as research and business look forward. Healthcare Unbound, based in The Center for Business Innovation, is about the development of technology aided self care, mobile care and home care. Healthcare Unbound literally sees the future of healthcare technology “in, on and around the body that frees care from formal institutions.” CAST, the Center for Aging Services Technologies is supported by major technology companies, like Intel, Honeywell, etc. as well as Universities and home and service providers. the goal is to help life improving technologies emerge CAST started from AAHSA (American Association of Homes and Services for Aging) came from the housing services industry’s recognition that Technology is a big part of our future.

It is no coincidence that the same circumstances we speak of here talking about telehealth cause some of the most troubling moves to assisted living. There is often no appropriate group or institutional setting close enough to maintain regular ties to community and family, causing people to lose way more than their home in a move. Aging in Place and assisted living are both housing and care options. You might say they are competitors. As with most competitors one does some things a little better, another has a different edge. They compete to solve the same problems.

Technological connectedness (is that a word?) is no longer a Dick Tracy comic strip future. It is here and now. Social and medical connections will be critical to the efficiencies Aging in Place brings to the growing cost of so many older citizens. High Tech is the foundation of the dynamic, custom care that will make our home care system as streamlined as a “Just in Time” auto factory.

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