New technology likely to facilitate independence for older Americans

"Aware" home technology has the potential to enhance the safety and well-being of aging Americans, according to an article in the Fall 2005 issue of the Public Policy & Aging Report, a quarterly publication of the National Academy on an Aging Society.

Many older adults live alone, deal with chronic medical conditions, and experience age-related changes in movement control and cognitive abilities. These same individuals largely prefer to maintain an independent lifestyle in their own homes. Authors Wendy A. Rogers and Arthur D. Fisk assert that aging successfully will be difficult in residences not designed to meet changing needs. The two researchers are affiliated with the Georgia Institute of Technology, where efforts are being focused on developing psychological and computer science to support home activities.

Helpful technologies can provide alerts to an emergency or hazardous situation (e.g., a stove left on), give support for daily activities such as medication monitoring, or support social communication with family and friends. However, Rogers and Fisk also caution that an older person's attitudes and preferences must be considered along with privacy concerns and the balance of autonomy and support.

Under the subject of "Emerging Paradigms in Long-Term Care," this issue of the PP&AR also features six other articles discussing more consumer-friendly, community-based, and autonomy-enhancing care approaches for supporting older citizens' needs.

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A copy of this issue of PP&AR can be obtained at: http://www.agingsociety.org/.

The National Academy on an Aging Society is the policy institute of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), the oldest and largest national multidisciplinary scientific organization devoted to the advancement of gerontological research. Founded in 1945, GSA's membership includes some 5,000+ researchers, educators, practitioners, and other professionals in the field of aging. The Society's principal missions are to promote research and education in aging and to encourage the dissemination of research results to other scientists, decision makers, and practitioners.


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