The global population is aging and Hong Kong is also experiencing the same trend. According to a report published by The Open University of Hong Kong, between 2018 and 2038, the elderly population will almost double from 1.27 million to 2.44 million. This issue creates significant challenges both in terms of the economy and in terms of care for this growing segment of elderly people. The elderly care sector has always been very labour intensive but due to the job nature and often less than attractive pay, it is very difficult to recruit workers for elderly care roles in Hong Kong. This has resulted in a shortage of manpower, which is only going to become more of a problem as the number of elderly people increases. To reduce the burden on care givers and help them keep our elderly safe, a number of smart innovations have been developed, such as fall detection, bed exit alarms and vital signs monitoring, and the Government is actively encouraging the use of these solutions through its Gerontech and Innovation Expo cum Summit first launched in 2017. Also, to help this often cash-strapped sector adopt this technology, the Government has established a subsidy scheme named the Innovation and Technology Fund for Application in Elderly and Rehabilitation Care to help with the costs. With these incentives, the sector can begin to realise the usefulness of smart devices in their everyday work and in this blog we will take a closer look at how technology can be used to keep our elderly safe.
Common risks faced by the elderly
As we grow older, the number of risks we face in our everyday life increases. Falls are one of the most common issues. Declining mobility and failing eyesight coupled with more frail bodies means that falls from getting out of bed for instance can more easily occur and the injuries more severe. Another symptom of old age is cognitive decline and this becomes a significant issue when elderly people with cognitive disorders wander from safe surroundings. Heart and respiratory issues along with osteoarthritis or osteoporosis also add to the challenges faced by the elderly. Thankfully, advances in technology can help with coping with many of these issues and reducing risks. Let’s take a closer look at some of the technology which is now available.
Fall detection and bed exit alarms
As mentioned, falls pose a significant risk to the elderly. Care givers are unable to watch their elderly patients 24/7, especially when they in their room or have gone to bed. Placing CCTV cameras inside private rooms is obviously not an option, but companies such as GF Technovation (Powered by Guardforce) have developed non-visual fall detection and bed exit alarms. GF Technovation’s Elderly Fall Detection Alarm System alerts caregivers if the elderly person falls in their room, whether it is while moving around or exiting the bed unaccompanied, so they can respond without delay. Using this system, our elderly can enjoy peace of mind that someone will be there quickly should they need them, while also maintaining their privacy.
Another issue linked to the fact that care givers are unable to monitor the movements of their elderly patients all the time is ensuring elderly patients, particularly those with cognitive disorders, do not wander from safe surroundings. To help with this GF Technovation has also developed an Anti-Wandering Solution. As an alternative to wearable bracelets which can be uncomfortable and unreliable, this solution uses a combination of CCTV, facial recognition and IoT to alert care givers if an elderly patient is wandering into an area which is unsafe. Removing the burden from care givers, it allows freedom for vulnerable patients while also keeping them safe.
Smart devices to help combat cognitive decline
To help with cognitive decline, a number of smart care solutions have been developed. GF Technovation has, for instance, introduced a ground-breaking product – ExBrain – that can help prevent cognitive impairment. The product helps to maintain cognitive function by providing brain games researched and developed through rigorous scientific testing to stimulate and measure brain activity and assist with early observation of cognitive decline. Learn more about ExBrain here.
Smart vital signs monitoring
Although another labour intensive task, vital signs monitoring of elderly patients is important and becomes even more essential following any medical issue or accident. Vital signs can also give an indication of medical issues or accidents occurring in real time. This is another example of where smart devices can not only take the burden away from care givers but also enhance the standard of care given to patients. GF Technovation’s two-in-one solution named Vitals, for instance, combines both a remote vital signs sensor and fall detection/bed exit alarm. The integrated AI can auto-calibrate to eliminate false alarms and if any signals are out of the normal range or the sensor detects the person is getting out of bed, an alert will be sent to care givers through their smart phones, tablet or the solution’s dashboard. Route alerts can also be set to remind caregivers about tasks such as turning a bed-bound person to prevent pressure ulcers.
GF Technovation has also developed a smart non-contact vitals sensor named Vital Sensor for advanced fall detection that continuously scans for ToF (time of flight) motions and confirms a fall has occurred through heartbeat and breathing patterns. It can significantly speed up the reaction time for care givers should an incident occur.
Learn more about these smart care solutions here.
Learn more about GF Technovation’s smart elderly care solutions
We can see from this blog that technology can be extremely useful for keeping our elderly safe while also helping to solve manpower issues in the elderly care sector. The smart solutions offer a more proactive and reliable approach to human detection and create better operational efficiency by removing the burden on care givers. To learn more about GF Technovation’s smart elderly care solutions, including fall detection, bed exit alarms and vital signs monitoring, click here.