6 W. Bradley Fain

Technology Advances Will Improve the Resident, Family, 

As the population of senior adults continues to rise and providers add communities to care for them, the need  to manage increasingly complex operations.

tions, remember to take medications, and remain connected with their community and caregivers. Georgia Tech’s HomeLab was developed to evaluate consumer perceptions and use of pre-mar- ket or mature home technologies over an extended period of time in their own homes. “Innovations in technology are at the cusp of addressing many


of the issues that impact the quality of life of seniors and their caregivers,” says W. Bradley Fain Ph.D., principal research sci- entist for the Georgia Tech Research Institute. First, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will give us new insights into the behavior and activities of older adults.” Second, he says, telemed- icine and tele-presence systems will allow formal and informal caregivers to interact with seniors without them leaving their home environment. Third, technologies that were only available in a hospital or clinic setting are currently being designed to be used in the home. Soon patients will be able to conduct complex diagnostic procedures and treatments in the home and will be able to transmit the data to their physician seamlessly.” Fain sees a number of technologies emerging that could work in senior living communities, including wearable computers that could collect data on an individual’s gait, activity level, and heart rate to provide feedback to the individual as well as help manag- ers better assess people at risk of falling. Fain has been working with an assisted living provider to study the ROI for allowing people to use wearable activity and sleep monitors. Andrew Carle sees

assistive technologies playing an increasingly important role in mitigating the labor shortage. “The focus needs to be on assistive technologies that can serve as productivity accelerators,” he says. “Eighty percent of the car a person drives each day is built by ro- bots. We need to adjust as other industries have done in the past.” One example, he suggests, is robotic medication dispensers

that utilize voice and sound alert reminders and can even send alerts to authorized caregivers when a medication has not been taken within a set period of time. These dispensers are available now but some providers are reluctant to use them, according to Carle. “This is a short-term vision; there aren’t going to be

long with an aging U.S. population is a booming market for technological devices that will help older adults re- main safe, live healthy lifestyles, manage chronic condi-

Andrew Carle

enough medication managers in the very near future, as well as families/residents can already purchase these for themselves,” says Carle. “Providers need to get ahead of the curve on this. In the near future, we will also have pills that include a micro-chip and arm patch that will allow us to not only know the pills have actually been swallowed, but to measure the resident’s physiolog-  between a 90-pound female and 190-pound male taking the same pill. So our ability to adjust medications to the individual for better outcomes will also be exponentially improved.” Carle also expects an evolution in how care is documented and in the way communication is managed among residents,  talking to an Internet portal that doubles as a window and/or mirror on the wall. These will be everywhere, including in our homes.” As for communication,” he says, “everyone who is au- thorized will have instant, real-time access, including residents, family members, and third-party health care professionals. This will also dramatically improve care coordination and communi- cation among all parties.”


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