Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Smart technologies to assist future older Australians

A wide range of smart technologies are available to assist older Australians to live safely and to live well at home and in the community, according to a new report by the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES).

With the growing number of older Australians, the use of smart technologies such as computers, tablets, and smartphones can aid and lower the future demands for aged care facilities by allowing them to stay in their home longer with the support of such technologies along with access to cost effective broadband services.

Statistics shows that in 1901 the average life expectancy in Australia was 47 years. By 2025 it will be over 80. In 2050, 25% of Australians will be aged over 65, with 5% over 85.

The IBES report, led by Professor Meg Morris, Head of School of Physiotherapy at the University of Melbourne, points out that it will be possible to prolong the period living at home and at the same time feel safe. Monitoring and treatment of chronic diseases can be of higher quality and more continuous as rehabilitation and many health and social care services can be received in the home setting.

Smart home technology is currently available to assist older people to stay living at home, including those with impairments, activity limitations and disabilities. Additionally, the report indicates that the rollout of the National Broadband Network offers a unique opportunity to link Australians with state-of-the-art technologies with the potential to improve health, well being and quality of life.

“The National Broadband Network coupled with other new technologies could be better used by healthcare agencies, such as district nursing services, general practitioners and allied health professionals to work more effectively and efficiently in the home and community, to better enable health and wellbeing.”

The report, which includes review and analysis of 8,521 articles on the use of smart technologies to support ageing around the world, is an essential resource for policies and procedures for installation of smart technologies into homes and communities – which also forms part of the National Broadband Network endeavour.