The majority of the disabled elderly currently living in assisted living facilities have expressed an interest in living at home by themselves or under the watchful eye of a nurse or qualifying family member. In fact, some cases may prove beneficial to the elderly who have conditions that demand familiarity in order to produce a functional lifestyle. Researchers have answered with the use of Smart Assistive Technology (SAT) devices to aid people in their daily activities, such as electronic doors and windows. Disabled people vouch for the effectiveness that this technology brings to those with severe conditions, especially those rendered immobile.
Testers have complained that the technology may complicate the lives of the elderly, because of the numerous devices that are separated from each other; the user-friendliness of smart assistive technology devices depends on whether the company has competent trainers to guide the elderly to proper use. One type of system requires a bus-line to wire a house for monitoring between two different parties. In addition, the bus-line acts as a safety valve for the system. Most smart assistive technology devices rely on computers to troubleshoot existing network problems. If the computer fails, so does the entire SAT system. The elderly may become too dependent on the SAT devices, which can mean the difference between life and death if the person does not have a secondary emergency protocol. Therefore, the smart assistive technology must have the same reliability as in-house assisted living personnel.
Many healthcare providers and insurance companies accept smart assistive technology; however, some view SAT technology with uncertainty. For instance, smart assistive technology lacks convincing research data that guarantee the reliability of SAT devices with a bus-line. Conversely, researchers have determined that bus-line SAT devices are the most appropriate for disabled and elderly people. Despite compiling the necessary data, some healthcare providers and insurance companies refute the effectiveness of SAT devices for their economic value. In comparison, the bus-line SAT models are more expensive than do-it-yourself alternatives. The cheaper SAT devices require regular maintenance and parts replacement. Healthcare providers have argued about the multiple visitations it would take for specially-trained personnel to design a suitable SAT floor plan for the individual's needs. To work around these issues, many SAT companies have worked in tandem with housing companies to construct existing houses with built-in SAT devices. Even retrofitting can provide a desirable quality of life for disabled and elderly people if healthcare providers come to terms with the necessary costs it requires.
A few organizations and associations have pursued options for furthering smart assistive technology. A small minority view smart assistive technology as the stepping stone to replacing a predominantly human-based workforce. Others view smart assistive technology devices as an aiding development for those who suffer from chronic disabilities and illnesses, such as severe autistic spectrum, multiple sclerosis, dementia, and rheumatoid arthritis. Smart assistive technology reveals that researchers continue to conduct experiments centered around artificial intelligence. Most people only want to use technological devices. Nobody considers whether their television or radio works off artificial intelligence. In fact, consumers purchase these items for pleasurable use. Therefore, why should society question the value of smart assistive technological devices in the home? As long as the technology provides the solution to common problems, then most families will welcome it with open arms if it fits within their income range.
Follow these links to learn more about Smart Assistive Technology (SAT):
- The MIT Intelligent Wheelchair Project: The MIT program focuses on developing a voice-commanded robotic wheelchair for the disabled, elderly, and chronically ill.
- Assistive Robots and Smart Houses: A series of mandatory lectures covering robotic technology that aids surgeons, and rehabilitation devices, such as wheelchairs and prostheses.
- University of Florida News: UF "Smart Home" Demonstrates the Concept Of Automated Elderly Help And Care: A press release that covers a UF-sponsored event that demonstrates smart assistive technology to the elderly.
- International E cyclopedia of Rehabilitation: An abstract paper that covers modern interventions of smart home technology for disabled and elderly individuals.
- Smart Home Technology for Aging in Place Longer and Better (PDF): A presentation by Robert E. Roush, Ed.D., M.P.H. at the 21st annual summer series on aging that includes a small section about smart home technology and inexpensive devices.