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Thanks to IoT technology, simple alert buttons have evolved to the point where seniors can opt for peace of mind and personal safety, by being monitored without having their privacy compromised and without their own intervention.

With new medical breakthroughs and better systems of care, the world’s elderly population is always on the increase. In Malta, the percentage of people aged over 65 years is growing at a staggering average annual rate of 2.24%. Just to put this in context, back in 1971, the 65+ population stood at 32,000 whilst today it stands at around 95,000. Whilst this is a good and welcome development, it also means that more people are living to an age where they are affected by the loss of physical and cognitive functions, including diseases such as Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The challenge

As any senior citizen or family member will tell you, one of the most important things in elderly care is to preserve and sustain a person’s independence as much as possible, and for as long as possible. When this starts to become increasingly difficult and risky, to date, the options have been limited to two – either that of hiring 24/7 live-in help or moving the elderly person into a retirement home.  In both cases, seniors often feel that they are losing their privacy, their independence, and sometimes even their dignity.

The IoT solution

In recent years however, the development of a host of smart devices and IoT technologies have given birth to the most viable third option – one that can make a very significant difference in how long elderly people can keep living independently, either in their own home or at an independent living facility.  

Thanks to IoT technology, what started in the form of an alert button that elderly people wore and pressed in case of an emergency, has now evolved to the point where seniors can be monitored without having their privacy compromised and without their own intervention. This technology can also help doctors detect medical problems early, help carers and family members check on their loved ones without intruding on their privacy, and provide all parties with more peace of mind knowing that help will be on its way should something go wrong.

How it works

Smart motion sensors are installed throughout a home to track movement in different areas around a house. Connected to the internet via Melita’s LoRaWan, Narrowband (NB-IoT) or 4G Network the motion sensors transmit movement information to a remote IoT platform which helps monitoring companies or carers keep a constant check on an elderly’s movement. 

Amongst other activities, the sensors can detect whether the person has woken up, how often they’ve visited the bathroom, whether they’ve left the house, whether they have eaten, if an appliance is on or off, and whether a door is open or closed. The sensors can also detect if the person has had a sudden fall or needs assistance. All this is done through motion recognition and since no visual monitoring is involved elderly person’s privacy is always protected.

When connected to an audio device, the system also transforms itself into a two-way communication transmission whereby a monitoring company or a family member can immediately communicate with the senior should the need arise. 

In addition, when data about daily movements and activities are stored and compared over time, it can help establish a senior’s daily routine, and alert the monitoring company or carer of any deviation from this.  

The technology can also track a person’s location, immediately sending an alert to the monitoring company or the person’s family should a set area parameter be breached. This gives family members peace of mind in cases of night-time wandering and other situations that can prove dangerous to an elderly person with diminishing cognitive abilities.

Who benefits?

Since the technology can be adapted to a small-scale solution such as a single home unit as well as a larger-scale solution, such as an independent living facility, the benefits of this advanced remote monitoring are numerous. The main advantage is clearly that of providing elderly citizens a more effective way to retain their independent lifestyles for longer, whilst at the same time mitigating the risks to their safety and protecting their privacy. In turn, this has a direct impact on public health and social services by lessening the demand for state-care, enhancing the efficiency of current processes, accelerating response time, and reducing costs. The ultimate benefit is that it provides peace of mind for the elderly, and their families. To learn more about how melita.io can help your healthcare business take advantage of the power of the Internet of Things, contact us

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