Global demographics point squarely to an aging population. In the US alone, 77 million Baby Boomers have begun turning senior, and 44 million of these individuals are already acting as caregivers to elderly parents and loved ones. Many nations in Europe and Asia are even older per capita. We are in the midst of a senior population bulge that will last for the next 20-30 years.
Accessible monitoring, control and alert solutions powered by Z-Wave provide invaluable assistance to the wellness and convenience of these Boomer seniors -- as well as the elderly loved ones for whom they are caregivers. These connected aging solutions are, and will continue to be, a vital demand for this enormous emerging market.
Z-Wave based devices and systems are the centerpiece of the connected aging and wellness paradigm. They allow a new realm of security, convenience and social features for the elderly that empowers independent and secure aging in place. Perhaps more importantly, they bring family caregivers new abilities to stay intimately connected, even when they can't physically be there, creating the most mutually secure and comfortable environment possible for independent aging.
Activity Is An Important New Healthcare Metric
With simple Z-Wave sensors, the home becomes an intelligent partner in monitoring wellness, and activity within the home becomes an important new metric for healthcare monitoring and delivery. Caregivers can know whether their loved ones have left their bed or haven't gone to bed, indicating a potential problem. A favorite chair that has gone unoccupied (or occupied) for too long can send an alert. Z-Wave makes the home into an intelligent unit that gathers and shares feedback of daily activities, making caregivers aware of unusual activity patterns and receiving alerts regarding them, when necessary.
Different stages of life wellness all benefit from activity monitoring through Z-Wave. For seniors that are still highly independent, Z-Wave Connected Aging solutions provide transparent monitoring of household activity that signals healthy living, and automatically optimizes the residential environment for maximum safety and comfort. For mid-functioning seniors that may be older, or living with chronic conditions that call for vigilant attention by family caregivers, Z-Wave can provide quantified wellness information regarding eating, sleeping, mobility and other key wellness indicators, thus allowing for proactive interventions. For seniors that depend on outside caregivers and home care visitors, Z-Wave provides remote-controllable door and access control, as well as automated comfort and safety conditions.
A complete list of capabilities provided, enabled or powered by Z-Wave in a connected aging environment is limited only by the imagination of the system designer and the needs of the connected home and individuals. But in virtually any setup, the following benefits are easily achieved:
Intelligent Monitoring of Daily Patterns
Utilizing inexpensive sensors, Z-Wave can accumulate and share data pertaining to daily wellness activity, ranging from simple ambulation patterns (did Mom or Dad walk around today?) to how many times a medicine chest has been opened, or how many times the bathroom has been accessed. This allows the remote caretaker to be alerted to any abnormalities in living patterns for loved ones aging in place.
Remote Access Control
In many cases, the elderly are visited on an ongoing basis by outside parties that contribute to their well being, including home health aides, visiting nurses and family and friends that stop by for assistance and socialization. With a Z-Wave controllable lock, caregivers can schedule times for doors to be opened for these parties and know when they have arrived. They can also remotely allow unexpected visitors, all without disturbing the loved one(s).
Interior Geofencing And Location
By intelligent placement of sensors, caregivers can set up areas in the home that alert them to occupancy or non-occupancy, thus being alerted to any dangers or signs of abnormal activity. For example, sensors can send notifications that a stairwell has been accessed going down but not up (indicating a possible fall), or know that no room outside of the bedroom has been accessed (indicating non-activity).
Remote Control Of Interior Environments
With Z-Wave control, light, temperature and other systems throughout the residence can be controlled remotely. Motorized shades ensure that elderly parents aren't sitting in the dark because shades are too heavy or high to reach. Caregivers can ensure that there's appropriate heat or air conditioning with remote HVAC controls, and through water sensors know and that grandma or grandpa hasn't accidentally left the water in the bathtub running.
These are only a few examples of what Z-Wave can do to empower independent aging in place and the caregivers that oversee it. The devices and systems that make up this connected aging environment are discreet, accessible, and easily integrated into the home. Together, they create a complete picture of observable patterns and actionable data that provides a level of security and decision-making ability that was previously unattainable outside of a senior care facility.
With Z-Wave, there's more than just security, comfort and convenience for the elderly aging in place. The connected environment that it allows can also reduce emergency visits, minimize risk of hospitalizations, help end users better manage chronic conditions, and keep them close with family and loved ones 24/7.