Vertical Market: Assisted Living & Health Monitoring--Technology Extends a Helping Hand

Baby Boomers are a self-sufficient lot. They don’t want to be a burden and they’ve become accustomed to an independent lifestyle—and that mindset will continue as millions of this age group reach their 70s and beyond in the coming years.

As a whole, we are a country that continues to grey, largely due to the high population of baby boomers, those born between 1945 and 1965 after World War II. Many are moving into communities that start as retirement campuses but also offer assisted living and even nursing and acute care to support life’s aging challenges. And while for the most part we’re living longer and healthier lives—a little technology goes a long way in ensuring safety for aging partners and parents.

In addition to the routine challenges of slip and falls and safe containment, there are more issues that face the aging population. According to a July 2012 report in HealthDay News, the U.S. faces an unprecedented number of aging baby boomers with mental health or substance use issues, so patient wandering protection and even medicine dispenser controls are critical. And while health monitoring outside the security industry has different implications—telehealth, etc.—for the purposes of this article it’s about emergency response, video surveillance, smartphone connectivity and all the different ways caregivers can monitor and keep apprised of the status of their elderly parent or aging loved one.

Opportunities for systems integrators include personal emergency response systems, video monitoring and mobile video, duress or emergency buttons, and simple things, like chimes and sounders that notify when an elderly parent not in total control of their faculties might decide to leave the premises or wander to an outside area that is unprotected or unfenced.

Wireless and cellular have also emerged as solid players in this vertical market. Occupancy sensors that turn on or off lights when elderly have entered or left an area are one simple control to think about, as are of course PERs when a parent or elderly has fallen or perhaps has failed to enter an area on an appointed time schedule. And of course, video with remote verification capabilities so caregivers can look in while away will continue to play a strong role in the market.

The reality is that elderly parents want to stay in their homes as long as possible, so all kinds of controls are possible to help them achieve those goals. Some 73 percent of respondents in an American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) survey, Home and Community Preferences of the 45+ Population, November 2012, strongly agreed with the statement: "What I'd really like to do is stay in my current residence for as long as possible."

That’s good news for systems integrators and alarm dealers who can leverage their solutions expertise to help them do just that.