Technology & Science

Technology that helps seniors remain independent

Here's a look at some technology that can make living alone a little easier for seniors — and for their families, too.

As the population ages, seniors are turning to technology to stay in their homes

Lively sensors will notify a caregiver if a senior hasn't taken his or her medication. (Lively)

Just because grandma may not own a smartphone doesn't mean she can’t benefit from some other high-tech gadgets. Here's a look at some technology that can make living alone a little easier for seniors — and for their families, too.

Home sensors

Lively is a system that monitors daily activity through sensors placed around a senior's home to monitor things like pill boxes or appliances. Loved ones can log into Lively's dashboard to see if the seniors have taken medication at the correct time, if the refrigerator has been opened recently, if they've left the house or even how often they’ve gone to the washroom. If something appears to be not quite right, caregivers are notified by email or by text message. Twice a month, Lively can also snail-mail "LivelyGrams" to seniors — brochures that loved ones create with family photos and short messages.

Robot companions

Meet Hector, grandma’s new live-in friend. Hector is a robot that provides assistive living for the elderly. The robot looks just as one would imagine: with moving eyes, a button nose and a tablet for a stomach.
(CompanionAble Project)

It works with smart home technology to make it easier for seniors to live at home, reminding them to take their medicine, reading off to-do lists and alerting emergency services in case of a fall. CompanionAble, the project that created Hector, was funded through a €7.8-million ($11.6-million Cdn) grant from the European Commission under the 7th Framework Program, which supports research in Europe with the aim of boosting the economy.

Smart clothing

As wearable technology is becoming more mainstream, a European company promises to deliver clothing that monitors a person's health. Healthwear is developing shirts, sweaters and coats that it says will oversee a person's breathing, heart and skin temperature. Health updates are sent to caregivers, allowing them to check in on their patients in real time and see if their health is deteriorating.

Talking pets

GeriJoy is essentially a talking pet displayed on a tablet that you can have a conversation with. The pet responds to touch and care, which the company says creates the emotional health benefits of pet therapy.
(GeriJoy)

When seniors talk to the companion, their voice is heard by a live GeriJoy rep through an internet connection. That person responds through the pet. The company says displaying an avatar instead of video-calling with a real person allows for a more positive and lighthearted relationship. The device can also send and receive photos between seniors and loved ones. The GeriJoy companion can be displayed on an iPad or other consumer tablets.