Ambient Assisted Living – What Is It & How Is It Supporting Residents?

Patients in aged care facility reading tablet image

Ambient Assisted Living – What Is It & How Is It Supporting Residents?

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) is a sub-category of Ambient intelligence, which concerns the use of ambient intelligent techniques, processes and technologies to enable elderly people to live independently for a long as possible, without intrusive behaviors.

A relative new technology trend that emerged from Europe, the intent is to embed intelligent “things” into the environment to support people without intrusive monitoring and work-flow. With the old-age dependency ratio (people older than 64) rising, particularly in the more developed nation, the impact of this demographic change is widely being recognized as a need to address the problem both from a societal and an economic standpoint. Research into aging, age-related conditions and the means to support an aging population has therefor become a priority for many government around the world (“Ambient Assisted Living” – Dorothy Monekosso,https://www.computer.org/csdl/mags/ex/2015/04/mex2015040002.pdf)

From a technology perspective, we see the emergence of the connected digital age playing a critical role in this AAL trend, especially around the use of IoT (Internet of Things) technologies. While technology cannot substitute for the warm welcoming of human interaction (which is very much needed to help provide stability with mental health), it can certainly provide assistance with specific day to day to living and associated challenges, whilst reducing intrusive behaviors often seen in aged care and hospital facilities.

AAL focuses on supporting technology that can assist residents cope with illness, improve mobility and enhance everyday life. The result’s of AAL’s efforts have been innovative, exciting and inspirational, especially when the data shows a true increase in resident care, whilst reducing staff work-flow behaviors that are often intrusive (such as routine resident checkups). IoT technology, often being embeddable in devices that are non-intrusive (or in some cases invisible to the resident) help support resident’s with chronic illness, remain active, stay happy and socially connected, enhance dignity and independence, remain mobile, carry out day-to-day activities and stay involved to avoid isolation from the world around them.

Research into activity recognition and behavior understanding covers a broad range of methods and techniques dependent on the type of sensors employed and the required detail. Activity recognition uses a very simple, nonintrusive sensor to reduce privacy concerns and increase acceptance. Most sensors in this category measure environmental parameters, deducing human activity from observation. such sensors include motion, movement tracking, fall and spill monitoring, temperature, body vitals, door contact, lighting and many others – all without making the resident aware of the monitoring and feeling uncomfortable or out of place.

The results of AAL and related assistive technology have had positive impacts on different aspects of resident health and quality of life. The needs of the elderly can be addressed by applying suitable solutions which influence the physical, mental and social dimensions of quality of life. There are also related benefits for social workers and care providers, their staff and care relatives of impaired elderly. AAL solutions are always playing a vital role in facilitating operational optimization of care services and work flow within facilities by reducing routine load and allowing staff to focus on priority resident’s.

Tags: