Smart Care trend series: Part 3 – Senior citizens and technology19. October 2018 Published by Raphael Doerr
Our new blog series provides you with information on important topics relating to smart care to give you the best-possible advice and support in choosing the solution that’s right for you. In this third article (here are part 1 and part 2), we take a closer look at the subject of “senior citizens and technology” with reference to modern senior citizens assistance systems and show what family members should pay particular attention to and how Gigaset smart care can help.
Complex smart home applications with connected devices often seem to be too confusing for elderly people at first sight, according to the German business magazine Wirtschaftswoche1. Complex sensor systems for the home which automatically switch the lights on and off by means of motion detectors, remind us if the fridge door has been left open too long or automatically turn off the heating as soon as you leave the house even baffle some younger users and very soon prove too much for older customers.
That also goes for mobility monitoring, where sensors are installed in the home and precisely record every step. That enables movement profiles to be created. If there are deviations from the inhabitant’s normal behavior, an emergency call can be sent. The technology is usually not understood by the target group. “Elderly people are then skeptical about the new technology, especially when it comes to being monitored,” emphasizes Volckmar Runte from the German Society for Gerontechnology2. And he names the reason why: He argues that the older generation very soon gains the impression that external control would rob them of their independence.
Assistance systems can also inspire enthusiasm
The researchers from Kempten University of Applied Sciences are more upbeat. In a model apartment in Kempten’s retirement home, they have installed various technical assistance systems for senior citizens to test whether they are useful in practice. They include a kitchen with height-adjustable, self-opening cupboard elements, a bath with a shower toilet that measures residents’ vital signs, or a floor with fall detectors.
The German newspaper Die Welt describes what the technology of the future looks like in this experimental setup: “The toilet measures your blood sugar level, while the lighting in the floor guides you to the bath. In a unique project, students from Kempten University of Applied Sciences are developing technical systems that make everyday life easier for the elderly. The upper cupboards in the kitchen can be lowered and the bedroom wardrobe has a sort of paternoster feature that conveys the clothes in a circle.”3 Anyone thinking that would be too much for seniors is wrong. This smart means of help is going down well. “The senior citizens who have already been here are enthusiastic about it.”4
Technology that’s simply secure and supportive
Generally speaking, the elderly are usually open to technical innovations if they are discussed with them in a suitable form and the benefits for them are highlighted. That’s also reflected in the growing number of Internet and smartphone users among the older generation. In fact, according to the German IT association BITKOM, the proportion of smartphone owners among people aged 50 to 64 rose last year from 26 to 39 percent – and continues to grow.5
“Society is not only aging, but is also becoming more and more individual and diverse. People increasingly want to live the way they want to and are also doing so. Technology can help them in that. All that’s very important, especially if you’re alone,”6 says Bernhard Schneider, Managing Director of Evangelische Heimstiftung, a foundation that runs homes.
Gigaset smart care also offers such support. The technology is simple, easy to use and simple to install, especially since the solution is based on the company’s Smart Home security system that has proven it worth over many years.
Common interests and differences
The name Smart Home says it all: Smart home solutions make your house or apartment more clever and secure and, as in the case of the Gigaset Smart Home solution, have a core function: to monitor sensitive areas in the home and notify residents, family or neighbors if something’s odd.
Security is at the heart of this concept. Motion detectors and intelligent sensors are the cornerstones of the security concept: They monitor doors and windows, communicate with each other and sound an alarm – usually with a loud signal or discreetly and quietly on the smartphone in the background – if there is a disruption to the “normal state of affairs” or the sensor detects something “unusual or or anomalous.” They also include smoke or water detectors.
That increases safety and gives smart home users a good and secure feeling – even when they’re not at home, the sensor registers and observes everything and sounds the alarm when required. Smart home solutions are usually bought by home owners themselves. They decide what they need and what’s important to them.
Clever detectors and smart assistants
Smart care solutions are based on a similar principle, with one difference: The concept does not focus on the home, but only people and above all elderly people who live alone. The assistance system differs as regards task area, but not the way it works.
With Gigaset smart care, motion detectors and sensors likewise observe, register and monitor the movements or habits of senior citizens who live alone. That’s not done with cameras, but with detectors and sensors – they are the “smart assistants.” They’re installed in the bedroom, hallway or bath, on windows or the refrigerator. That means they can monitor all important and sensitive areas. That’s why we call the Gigaset smart care solution an intelligent senior citizens assistance system. The components also communicate with each other. If they detect something unusual or a disruption to someone’s normal movements or routine, the smart detectors automatically notify family, friends or neighbors. That’s does by the smartphone with the aid of an app, the smart care app.
The system also indicates that everything is OK. If there’s a deviation in someone’s regular daily routine, for example the windows a senior citizen regularly opens to let fresh air in are not opened for a lengthy period of time or the fridge stays closed despite the fact that it’s time for lunch or supper, a family member is notified of that irregularity. The family member is thus alerted and can call and ask if everything’s alright. And if the senior citizen doesn’t answer the phone or the motion detector on the door registers that it’s open, for example, the relative can call a neighbor to ask them to pop by or can even drive around and check things out personally.
The Gigaset smart care app
Senior citizens who have the smart care solution installed in their home are unaware of the communication between the intelligent assistance system and family member and their normal daily routine is not disturbed. The smart care solution gives relatives who look after elderly people and want to know that everything is as it should be assurance and security, even if they themselves aren’t at the home.
Senior citizen assistance systems are usually bought by relatives
Senior citizen assistance systems are thus always monitoring systems. They usually work on the same principle. Monitoring systems are intended to inform the family member (carer) about someone’s activities remotely and alert them in the event of unusual movement patterns. Such systems are therefore used as support in looking after people who live independently on their own, but where that involves a certain risk.”
Some monitoring systems are used to see where a person is during the day or what appliances in the home he or she uses. They send information on the activity they record to an Internet portal, for example. The rooms in the home are listed there and the times the persons was in them are added. This data can be collected and analyzed so that changes over a lengthy time are clearer.
For example, the family member (carer) can see whether a person is suddenly sleeping longer or moves about the home less as a whole. Other monitoring systems are not used to display activities, but instead issue an alert if a preset activity profile is not adhered to. If, for instance, a motion detector registers no movement in the bathroom by a certain time in the morning, a warning is sent to the family member or persons from an outpatient care service.7
Senior citizens assistance systems help the elderly and family members because they can be used to cope with situations where people have weaknesses, such as restricted mobility, poor eyesight, difficulty in being reached or forgetfulness.
Overview of how the solution works
Gigaset smart care watches out in the home for irregularities in the daily routine of elderly family members who live alone and reliably provides information by means of the smart care app or sounds an alarm by initiating a phone call. Various sensors on windows, on doors and in rooms detect whether someone is at home, the doors are open or closed or the windows are tilted.
Rest periods, such as an afternoon nap, and the time they get up in the morning can also be recorded. It detects when people behave differently than usual – whether their sleep pattern changes, they miss meals or go to the bathroom more rarely than normal. By analyzing the complex sensor data, Gigaset smart care can also remind them to air rooms, eat and drink.
Senior citizens are all to themselves in their familiar surroundings, but do not feel left alone. And relatives or carers know at all times whether everything is alright or something is odd. They can then immediately take a decision on what is to be done. All daily habits are custom-configured using the Gigaset smart care app for smartphones.
Is someone eating regularly? Gigaset smart care can also monitor that.
It is clear and easy to operate and can also be used to select who is notified in the event of deviations from the defined routines – for example when someone leaves the house at an unusual time. That gives relatives the assurance that family members who live on their own are alright. Care services can also be integrated so as to enable even more customized assistance. smart care means senior citizens can always be certain that a trusted person is notified quickly and directly whenever necessary.
The technology – simple and secure
The Gigaset smart care package comprises five universal sensors for doors and windows, two motion detectors and wireless button used as an alarm. The components communicate wirelessly with the base station. The Gigaset cloud analyzes the data, puts it in a context and compares it with preset parameters.
If there are deviations, such as if someone leaves home at an unusual time, the Gigaset smart care app immediately sends out a push message. Gigaset smart care does not need any cables whatsoever – the universal sensors are battery-powered and are simply stuck to windows and doors. The sensors, motion detectors and alarm button communicate wirelessly with the base station, which is in constant dialog with the smart care app via the Gigaset cloud. Users of the app receive a push message in response to irregularities – no matter where they are.
The Gigaset smart care plus package also comes with a senior-friendly DECT phone that, in an emergency, establishes a connection with one of up to four defined phone numbers and automatically switches to handsfree mode when the call is taken. That means someone in need of help, for example after a fall, can still communicate. Gigaset smart care is based technically on the tried-and-tested Gigaset Smart Home system. All components are made in Germany subject to stringent quality controls and are particularly easy to install. Data security has top priority: The cloud is hosted only on servers in Germany.
Seal of quality of the “Deutscher Seniorenlotse”
There are so many products, offerings and services in the fields of health and care that it’s sometimes not easy to make head or tail of them. Just how good are the products? Can I trust the service? To help you find suitable age-appropriate offerings, a special means of guidance in the Internet has been launched: the seal of quality of the Deutscher Seniorenlotse.
The seal of quality is a recommendation for consumers. It gives orientation and helps you select products, solutions or services that are suitable for seniors in the Internet – and shows you at a glance that the company in question meets high quality requirements: In order to obtain the seal, a company must first gain certification. Only companies whose products or services offer clear value added for consumers are awarded it.
The Gigaset smart care solution is certified with the seal of quality of the “Deutscher Seniorenlotse”.