On International Day of Older Persons, the UN estimates that there are nearly a billion people in the world aged 60 or over, which is equivalent to 13 per cent of the global population. They expect that figure to more than double by 2050 and to more than triple by 2100.
To deal with Active Assisted Living (AAL) issues, the IEC has established a Systems Committee, IEC SyC AAL. This SyC has the role of promoting safety, security, privacy and cross-vendor interoperability in the use of AAL systems and services, and of fostering standardization which boosts their usability and accessibility. Its role and scope are constantly being expanded.
Standardization work is essential for helping the elderly and people with disabilities to live independently for as long as possible. International standards ensure the safety, reliability and compatibility of diverse technologies.
These include the Internet of Things (IoT), which offers innovative ways to help aging populations. IoT devices, buildings, cars and other objects are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network technology, allowing them to collect and exchange data with a view to assisting elderly and disabled people with everyday activities.
In the home, if a person with dementia forgets to close a window at night during winter, or leaves the stove on, or if an elderly person living alone falls over and is unable to move, the consequences could be fatal. Sensors in smart appliances or placed on doors and windows offer solutions for detecting temperature, motion and location.
Smart home care systems can switch on lights when they detect a person’s movement, remind people to take medicine, turn off appliances after a certain time has passed and monitor daily activities. If there is a change in routine, care givers or family are alerted. Some systems also link directly to various emergency services.
GPS tracking devices are particularly useful for people with different conditions affecting the memory. Family or health carers can track a person and help them find their way back home.
Age-related health issues, including increased susceptibility to chronic conditions such as diabetes, dementia and cardiovascular disease, will increase the number of patients and put a strain on health systems and service providers. Technology is helping to address this.
The way we detect, monitor and treat an increasing number of diseases is changing thanks to wearable and portable medical devices. For example, patients can check their own heart rate or blood pressure and send the results to online healthcare systems in hospitals and clinics.
As greater numbers of people need care and fewer care givers enter the workplace, robots will have a role to play in smart home systems. Cutting-edge sensory technology already enables robots in manufacturing to recognize and adjust to subtle changes, robots can perform daily tasks and help out in emergencies.