About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can the healthcare industry use technology to improve in-home care for American seniors?
Essay response by Anthony Riggins, University of Central Florida
In the age of technology and automation one of the very best methods for providing greater assistance and continuous personal security to American senior citizens is integrated home control and automation designed specifically catered to helping them feel safe and free in their own homes. The idea that a senior citizen can have access to their home’s functions and features through voice interaction or a central control unit like a cell phone or a tablet is already a reality. Many features can be set up for the convenience of someone who is physically limited, visually limited, vocally limited or injured.
Automating the home can be done in several ways. Climate controls and sprinkler settings are common home automation items and can provide comfort for warming or cooling the home throughout the day or night and watering the grounds without physical effort on a set schedule. But there are also other clever ideas to help ease a senior citizens days. Automatic runner lights along the floor that come on during a midnight trek to the bathroom or kitchen can help with safety and avoid tripping over objects that may have been left in the floor. The lights can be activated through a few different means such as motion sensitive activation or pressure sensitive mats. For a more economical solution luminescent strips can be added to the paneling at the bottom of the hallway. Although, this solution will leave a glow during the night that the resident can’t turn off. Cabinets and shelves can be designed to slide up and down for easy access and maintaining a space saving environment. These can be designed for ease to manually slide or they can be at the mercy of a remote control. Many of the appliances in the home can either be remotely controlled or voice activated and, of course for safety, have automatic shutoff switches and commands integrated in a similar manner to machinery in a wood or metal shop.
An American senior’s home can also be directly connected to emergency services either through an intercom system that can communicate to any part of their home or a handheld device that is can always be carried. Video communication is also an option which can also be beneficial as a home security measure allowing visual as well as verbal communication with any visitors at the front door. In line with security and access measures the front door can be configured to allow entry for specific personnel during emergency situations. The room lights can be set to a schedule for safety and to assist with daily habits. Each room in the house can turn on or off based on the schedule mirroring when the resident will be home or out or simply utilizing a specific room at a consistent time such as having dinner promptly at five o’clock in the evening.
In modern times a person’s home can be a fully interactive world. This provides easy solutions for American seniors, handicapped, and differently abled people to function without limitation or fear in their own homes. It is important to bring modern conveniences to the people that can really use it.
Anthony is headed back to school to study Optical Sciences and Engineering at the University of Central Florida in Orlando for Spring 2015 after serving six years in the US Army as a Linguist and Intelligence Analyst.