In-home care and smart home – shared interest, not yet connected

Smart home technologies are not part of the home care solution set.  Despite the labor shortage that is impacting the home care industry, technology in the home, especially smart home technology, is not part of the home care solution set. Yet with appropriate use of sensors, cameras, and voice interactions, families and home care providers could improve the wellbeing of older adults, many of whom are alone at home for long stretches of time.

Opt-in collection of meaningful data, at the same time protecting autonomy.  Older adults are rightly skeptical about technology designed to monitor them – equating monitoring with spying on them and invading their privacy. Instead, tech offerings need to be perceived as an in-home team of services, unobtrusively managing features that make a home an inviting and comfortable place. 

Pattern recognition. AI and Machine learning is mainstream in multiple domains, including an increasing acceptance in healthcare.  Multiple tech firms are now deploying pattern analysis and machine learning in the care of older adults, enabling comparison of patterns to user baseline profiles, identifying trendlines in behavior and supporting appropriate alerting of staff in the event that pattern changes require alerting staff, or identifying improvements in wellbeing – such as increased activity, exercise or family engagement.

Home as a caregiver: Multiple tiers of service based on user status and preferences. One size supposedly fits all, the characteristic of many individual smart home technologies. This won’t work for older adults moving forward, instead it will be multi-tiered offerings, customized remotely, adjusted as a person becomes frail.  Smart home technology will be used by home care companies to help compensate for labor shortages, warning of in-home issues during those times when the care recipient is alone.

[Part of the series preceding “Future of Smart Home and Older Adults” upcoming report]