Personal hygiene is one of the most serious problems that caregivers usually face when taking care of elderly people. There are many problems related to incontinence, inability to clean themselves or falling inside the bathroom. These issues not only affect the physiological well being of those people, but also their psychological state. Just imagine how you’d feel like when you’re not feeling clean or unable to clean yourself up.
To reduce the impact of such problems, some solutions have been implemented in the bathroom/toilet in the smart home.
Here you see the usual toilet seat and shower. It is possible to adjust the heights of the arms on both sides of the seat. In addition, the person is able to clean him/herself up using water that comes from inside the toilet seat after defecating. This solution is very practical both for people who are unable to use toilet paper and of course for caregivers who would avoid such procedure.
When the person starts to shower and turns on the warm water, this triggers special sensors in the room to heat up the room even more to give a nice warm feeling while taking a shower and to reduce the effect of water vapor on mirrors for example.There is also an adjustable seat instead of standing up while showering for people who aren’t capable of standing up or in danger of falling.
Metal rods to hold on to while showering are also installed. They exist also in many corners of the bathroom like for example around the sink to give the maximal possible support and safety measures. The tap is turned off automatically if the user forgets to do that and this leads to sending an alert notifying the caregiver that the person inside the apartment might be in a risk.
As for the kitchen, it resembles an ordinary kitchen.Actually, it is somewhat simpler than what many people have that’s because of the fact that many of those elderly people aren’t in need of very fancy and trendy kitchen equipment in addition to the fact that in most cases they cook simpler meals or eat food cooked by others (As you notice, there’s no stove or oven, because of the risks they might result in if they were there). Some tweaks and warning systems have been implemented to assist them with the devices they would frequently use. The fridge for example warns the person when the door remains opened. This is almost in every modern fridge, but the difference here is that the warning system is heard throughout the whole apartment and it’s not just some alarm noise, it’s in the form of a prerecorded message telling the person that the door of the fridge is open and needs to be closed.
Some of the kitchen related solutions aren’t directly related to using smart technologies, but more about implementing simple ideas and tweaks to already existing things inside the kitchen. Some of these ideas are adding some plastic holder to the wine glass in order to give a tighter grip of the glass and decrease the chances of elderly people losing control and dropping them. Looking closely at the glass itself, you’ll see that there’s one edge higher than the other. This decreases the extent of which the person can lift the glass up. This is very useful for those with disabilities, fractures of muscle pains who want to drink themselves without assistance. The same tweak has been done with other water glasses for the exact same purpose.
It is very obvious that many issues and problems related to elderly and disabled care that have been addressed by the previously displayed solutions. This doesn’t mean that many of those problems have been thoroughly solved though.
The newly implemented solutions also bring up some other problems like for example energy consumption and human contact. It is true that Smart Homes use the trendiest and the most advanced IT based solutions, but this comes at the expense of other things. Unfortunately, during our visit we didn’t get to discuss energy related issues (not sure if they use alternative sources) and other problems arising from such approaches.
There are many ongoing researches and developments in this field which hopefully would lead to increasing the quality of life of the targeted people and solving the remaining and new problems.