A combination of low- and high-tech solutions can help people who want to remain in their homes for longer as they age.
Canadian news service CBS reported recently about Foon Hay Lum, one of 14 centenarians residing at a retirement home in Toronto.
Lum, almost 111, lived in her own home and was an active gardener until four years ago. Her granddaughter Helen Lee told CBS: "My father would come and do the grocery shopping, but she wasn't supervised at all."
Statistics Canada estimates that there are almost 10,000 people aged 100+ living in Canada, with women comprising the majority (8,200). More people around the world are living to older age. According to the UN there are approximately 1 billion people aged 60 and above live today. This is estimated to rise to 2.1 billion by the middle of this century.
Aging in place
According to the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2019, conducted across 15 counties, two thirds of people (67 percent) globally believe that remaining in their own home as they get older is 'very' or 'extremely' important. A combination of high and low-tech solutions can help make this aging in place a reality.
Retrofitting the home can, for instance, be relatively low-tech. Top picks for changes required for the home, according to Aegon’s research, include bathroom modifications (40 percent) and the provision of age-friendly furniture (36 percent). Ramps, grip bars and elevators or stair lifts also feature in the low-tech wish list.
Panic buttons, home security systems and medical monitoring systems also have a crucial role to play. Supported by smart technology, such applications can help people safely in their own homes, and stay in touch with their adult children who may live far away.
Interactive computer devices and even robot companions are also becoming commercially available and can potentially help prevent isolation for seniors living on their own. Interestingly, however, robots that help in keeping people company figured relatively low (10 percent) in the ranking of priorities among the survey respondents. This may well change over time.