By changing how we care for our elders, we can change the world for generations to come.
Most people today can expect to live into their 70s and beyond. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, within the next 15 years, the world will have close to a billion people over the age of 65. People aged 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of 5 sometime before 2020.
Our health and wellness lie at the center of this massive shift in demographics. Many of these people will have physical impairments (loss of hearing, eyesight or mobility) or dementia or Alzheimer’s and require more care.
“Extending and improving the quality of life for the elderly is not just a personal issue.”
My own mother, Joyce, is 87 years old and lives at home with my wife and I. She can look after herself but suffers from severe short-term memory loss, although she has yet to be diagnosed with a degenerative neurological condition. Over the years, I have become acutely aware of the issues affecting elders and the people looking after them.
Most global decision makers in commercial and government organizations are dealing with the same situation: caring for aging parents while balancing care for their own families and managing their careers.
Extending and improving the quality of life for the elderly is not just a personal issue – it’s critical to everybody’s future. That’s why we’re tackling this massive issue.
IBM, with its heritage and leadership in developing accessible solutions for people with disabilities, is in a unique position to help our clients navigate their way through one of the greatest demographic shifts to face mankind. It is expected to reshape every industry and even the global economy itself.
According to a study from the Consumer Technology Association and IBM, addressing the many issues facing our elders will require a comprehensive approach – and new ecosystems of caregivers and businesses that serve them.
Healthcare is a large portion of this equation, but insurance and finance also play a crucial role, as does social care and keeping the elderly engaged in their family and society.
“Our goal is to help the world’s aging population live in their own homes longer.”
We want to augment elders’ living environments so they can live safely and independently for as long as possible but also predict and identify when changes happen that may signal a transition. This includes more help in the home, medical assistance or the move to an assisted living facility.
Transitions like these can be dramatic, stressful and costly, so we want to deploy insights and evidence that help elders and their families make more informed decisions.
Using tech for our advantage
To help the elderly age at home longer, IBM is collaborating with Rice University on robots for cognitive eldercare that will track and monitor vital activities and general health status much like an in-home human caregiver would.
In addition, by combining the data from smart homes and wearables, as well as healthcare, financial and social data, we can begin to create a holistic model of an individual’s life, environment and behavior.
“It’s akin to transforming the home itself into a personal assistant.”
We are committed to addressing the challenges of an aging population and working with university and business partners to create solutions that better manage everyday activities, extend elder independence and enrich their quality of life.
This article first appeared on THINK Blog and was republished with permission.
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