Internet of Things (IoT) technology is being adopted into every industry imaginable; farming, energy, medical, industrial, but most notably it’s gaining momentum in the home. The smart home market is rapidly growing and in high demand andIoT technology is becoming a common part of our everyday lives. One of the most interesting uses of IoT is how it can empower and give back independence to those who require assistance in daily living.

The older population — persons 65 years or older — numbered 46.2 million in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available). They represented 14.5% of the U.S. population, about one in every seven Americans. By 2060, there will be about 98 million seniors, more than twice their number in 2014. People 65+ represented 14.5% of the population in the year 2014 but are expected to grow to be 21.7% of the population by 2040.

The senior population is growing faster than care facilities, communities, and home care resources adapting. Implementation of internet of things technology is able to address this need by bringing a more personalized method of care and reducing the amount of resources needed for individual care.

The Smart Home

The appeal of IoT technology in assisted living is simple: senior citizens, people with disabilities and other persons who are less able to live alone are empowered. Rather than crossing a dark room to flip a switch, IoT can be set up to trigger lights once there is motion detected in the space or by command. Rather than fiddling with various different controllers for heating and cooling, a centralized app on a smartphone or tablet can control the entire house at once. If a person suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, alerts to neighbors and family can be sent about open refrigerator doors, open windows, and wandering outside a comfortable zone. In this way, people are given back the ability to do simple tasks that may have become unmanageable.

Smart home technology is able to provide 24-hour non-invasive home monitoring, allowing the families of those needing assistance to be alerted if there is something amiss. For instance, if lights in the kitchen haven’t been triggered in over a day, a family member or carer can be notified to check the house in person. This is especially useful in our increasingly globalized world — if you are in another country for work, you can still have peace of mind knowing that your family is safe at home.

Senior Fall Detection

Falls in older adults have become an epidemic problem that jeopardizes seniors’ chances to live independently. Every year in the U.S., one out of three people age 65 and over will fall. Close to 50 percent of older adults can’t get up from a fall without help. Lying on the floor for an extended period of time can lead to serious complications including pressure ulcers, rhabdomyolysis, pneumonia, hypothermia, dehydration, and even death. The first line of defense in falls safety is to prevent falls, but the reality is not all falls can be prevented. The second line of defense is to prevent long lie times after the fall which can lead to these serious health complications which negatively impact the quality of life for seniors and are costly to the healthcare system.

HealthInRealTime mitigates potential falls by understanding individual gaits looking for changes that are warning signs of a fall. With advanced sensors and big data tracking capabilities, IoT is an early warning detector of potential negative events. Big data analytics and AI visualize when gaits change over time and warn caregivers, adult children of the elderly, neighbors or friends of the change in gait or lower levels of activity.

IoT provides a home that is constantly monitored for safety without being invasive. It gives back a sense of independence to those in need of assistance. Smart homes are the ideal solution for individuals with different needs and abilities. We can expect their adoption to be in line with the global demographic shift towards the elderly.