When older adults wear a SECOM Pearl pendant, their focus is not on making a fashion statement but on remaining independent and improving their quality of life.
The pendant is part of the SECOM Carehub, a monitoring system that supports seniors who want to live independently and securely in their homes. SECOM plc, a UK-based company that provides e-based security solutions, developed the system in partnership with Chiptech, a telecare supplier.
Wearable technology like the SECOM Pearl pendant gives seniors the confidence to go about their daily activities, knowing that help is on the other end of the device should they need it.
How Carehub Works
The SECOM Carehub includes a base station and a Pearl pendant to wear around the neck. The system is activated via a SECOM Care smartphone app that connects pendant wearers to a family member, neighbor, or another designated contact should they need help.
The wearer can also connect to SECOM’s monitoring team, who can provide direct assistance or contact emergency response services if needed.
According to SECOM, Carehub lets seniors select their own contacts because some older adults may be reluctant to contact an emergency response service. For one, they may feel embarrassed that something has happened to them. Seniors also fear being a burden or that the emergency responders taking them to the hospital.
Seniors can go beyond their home when the pendant is enhanced with SECOM’s GPS-enabled Go device. The GPS allows seniors to go anywhere, in their garden or the community and lets their designated contacts know where they are at all times.
Pandemic Shows Importance of Wireless Devices
When the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic hit the United States earlier this year, seniors with underlying health conditions were among the first to fall ill from the coronavirus. Public health officials advised older adults to shelter in place to reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus.
So, seniors who were not living with family members or had live-in caregivers found themselves isolated and unable to have visitors. In some instances, older adults learned to use technology to keep in touch with their family members. Video chats and wearable devices with smartphone app-connections helped seniors keep in touch with their family members, who, in turn, could monitor their loved one’s activities.
Smart care technology that supports older adults who want to remain at home was already popular before the COVID-19 pandemic. The demand for technology is expected to continue since the number of older adults is projected to increase over the next two decades.
More Technologies Needed to Support Independent Seniors
The U.S. Census Bureau predicts the number of people 65 years old and over will grow to 95 million by 2060, making seniors a quarter of the population.
Because of the predicted population increase, the National Science & Technology Council formed a task force to explore how advances in technology can help the independence of aging Americans. The task force report encouraged more research and development of new technologies that help older adults stay socially engaged and connected, and reduce the impact of cognitive and physical limitations.
As SECOM and other tech firms create new devices to maximize the independence of older adults, some companies are redesigning existing products or connecting them to the Internet. For example:
- Bed pads have existed for quite some time. Now, smart pads are being made with sensors that can send alerts to a caregiver or a family member when an older adult gets out of bed.
- A voice-controlled lighting system lets an older adult or a virtual assistant, like Amazon Alexa or Siri, turn lights on or off in a room simply by voice command. An automatic turning on of the lights helps seniors see better at night, especially during trips to the bathroom.
- Home security systems can use a Wi-Fi network to connect sensors to devices like smart light bulbs, door locks, doorbells, and thermostats. For instance, by installing an app on a smartphone or a laptop, a homeowner can see and respond to the person ringing a doorbell without having to go to the door. Similarly, homeowners can operate a smart thermostat from a smartphone. So, instead of getting out of bed in the middle of the night to turn up the heat, a homeowner can access the thermostat via a smartphone app.
The SECOM Carehub connects to smoke detectors, fall sensors, and other wireless devices which help family contacts and caregivers to monitor the older adult’s activities.
Neil Fitzwalter, SECOM’s care technology manager, said CAREHUB gives family members peace of mind when they cannot be with their loved one. It also gives older adults a much higher quality of life by eliminating worries and keeping them in touch with others.