2030 will mark a demographic turning point for the U.S.
By 2050, over 22% of the population is projected to be 65+ and this will dramatically change society's focus, energy, and what it means to be "supported" as we age.
The younger population acting as caretakers will be a commodity. So, many innovative companies are turning to technology to help fill in the gaps, which could reduce falls in the long run.
When we think of technology for fall prevention, we often think of remote monitoring systems like Life Alert. "Help! We've fallen and can't get up!"
And while not discrediting these innovative companies, it IS important to highlight the technology out there assisting us without us even thinking about it.
Universal design has brought us smart home features that are making lasting changes for individuals to live more independently and with more support than ever.
Per The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab, while users of smart-home technologies can benefit in various ways, the top three benefits for older adults were as follows:
Making daily life easier/more convenient
This same study determined that the “top 10 smart technologies” for adults are the following:
Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Wireless doorbell cameras
Smart water shutoff valves
Smart home security systems
Water and/or mold monitoring sensors
Smart window blinds
My suspicion, as an Occupational Therapist who lived with parents who were 60+ while I was in my teens, is that these types of technologies create safety, security, and convenience by reducing risky behaviors. Reducing the CHANCE to fall in the first place.
Having a smart smoke detector means less need to climb a ladder to check the batteries. And let me tell you there are a LOT of ladder injuries in the ER, so this one could be HUGE.
(Please don't do what this person is doing in the picture.)
Wireless doorbells, keyless entries, and smartphones in pockets take away the urgency to run to the door before your visitor leaves. Rushing to the door is a risky behavior if you use a mobility device, have uneven flooring or have mobility concerns.
Having automatic lighting, smart plugs, water/mold monitoring systems paired to a phone, and even a thermostat that is on a timer, reduces the need to reach over tables and chairs, or navigate cluttered basements. These tasks can be quite the balance check for some individuals.
If you haven't considered smart tech for yourself or a loved one, consider it now. It can be slow to adapt for some people, and a slow introduction may create a better buy-in in the long run.