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Surprising Science

Better Aging Through Technology

Games, monitors and robots are among the tools being tested to help aging people live in their homes as long as possible, while lowering risks to health and safety. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Technology companies like General Electric and Intel are beginning to market a new industry in patient care called “aging in place”. The industry relies on new monitoring technology that may effectively replace retirement homes and assisted living centers. Dorothy Rutherford, an 86 year-old retiree in Portland, Oregan, is testing some of the technology: “Motion sensors along hallways and ceilings record her gait and walking speed. A monitor on her back door observes when she leaves the house, and another one on the refrigerator keeps tabs on how often she’s eating.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Retirement homes and assisted living centers are often difficult compromises families feel they need to make, both for the benefit of the aging parent’s health and their own professional life—taking care of an aging person often requires a part-time work load outside the home. The two main appeals of new “aging in place” monitoring technology is to keep the elderly comfortable in their own home and allow their families to get back to work. Ms. Rutherford said the technology also gives her a sense of security about her health. 


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