Imagine a home that turned its lights on or off when needed, turned taps off when left on, warned you that appliances were not shut off or remained hot, or one that encouraged you to go back to bed at night if you were caught wandering the house. Believe it or not, the University of Bath has developed this futuristic ‘smart home’, which uses cutting edge sensor, electronics and IT capabilities to revolutionize the lives of dementia sufferers.
Two nursing homes in the UK are currently using this new technology and have been for a year with great success. These trial homes will provide the necessary insight required for the conversion of regular homes to smart homes for those living on their own with dementia.
Professor Roger Orpwood, the lead scientist behind the systems' development, assures the public that this new technology seeks to solve unique problems affecting people in a way that empowers and enables them to maintain control of their own lives rather than taking away individual control.
An easy to use ‘plug in and use’ type of device will certainly prevent excessive feelings of helplessness and improve the quality of life for those living with dementia by allowing them to remain more independent. In addition, monitoring normally performed by family members will be taken over by this new system. Consequently, the extra burden on family members will be replaced with feelings of security. As well, the costs of homecare will be vastly reduced.
“The key will be to tailor them to individual requirements and ensure that they act as much like a live-in carer as possible. For example, voice-prompts can utilise the voices of relatives or friends to deliver reassuring messages, as well as to influence behaviour. The systems are also designed to be monitored remotely via computer by healthcare professionals” says Professor Orpwood.
These high tech renovations sound like a dream come true for people living with dementia, but how much could this dream home cost? Expense is an important factor as people tend to be surviving on limited income at the age where dementia typically sets in. Additionally, let’s hope this system can be transferred effortlessly to a new home since many elderly people, although independent; prefer the comforts of a condo to a large home. Nevertheless, the benefits seem far greater than any downfall or limitation of this new invention.
New 'Smart' Homes For Dementia Sufferers