A report carried out earlier this year has led to concerns that the UK is ill-equipped to care for our rapidly expanding ageing population. The implications of this report are that individuals will need to equip themselves with the means to stay in their own homes as long as possible and to allow friends and family to care for them in their old age.
The Lords committee report discovered that half of all people born after 2007 will live until they are 100 or older and the number of people aged over 65 will increase by 51% by 2030. The number aged over 85 will double during this period. Furthermore people will live longer with restrictive conditions such as arthritis, mobility issues and even cancer and heart disease.
While it sounds like great news that people are living longer and enjoying longer and more fulfilling retirements, it is also a concern as services are not necessarily available to care for so many people who still want to remain independent. The report author points out that the NHS has failed to account for the numbers of elderly expected in the future and that those with disabilities, dementia, diabetes and heart disease will increase as the population does. This will cause a shortfall in the required budget for the NHS.
So it is clear that the UK elderly and their families need to prepare themselves and their homes for this future reality. The use of assistive technology could greatly help with this. Described as products which allow the disabled or impaired to carry out tasks which they would normally be able to do without their impairment – assistive technology is making big waves in the care profession.
With the ability to help the elderly see and hear better, move around their home more easily and carry out everyday tasks with ease, this technology will be more and more useful as time goes on. Not only does it make living in your own home easier, it can also allow family members to have remote access to their loved one – with tracking of their health, their whereabouts and the condition of their home (the temperature, if doors or windows are closed and doors are locked).
Assistive technology is also useful in the professional caring sector. Offering different ways to care for people were they remain in their homes much longer. For those in nursing homes, the ability to remotely monitor residents can make running a home safer and significantly more efficient.
Being independent is something all of want for as long as possible and assistive technology can add at least a few years on to that time for most of us.