Digital Agenda for Europe
A Europe 2020 Initiative

What do we mean by Independent Living?

Article
As our population ages, the term "independent living" is used more and more to describe ways in which the elderly in particular are able to live autonomously and with dignity within their own homes. Today, Independent Living is increasingly driven by technology. Smart solutions including sensors and robots allow elderly people to feel secure and supported within their own homes while avoiding isolation or intrusive surveillance. Thanks to ICT, an increasing number of elderly people avoid the upheaval of moving into a formal, institutionalised care setting where they are reliant on carers to help them accomplish their every-day personal tasks.
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Below is a selection of solutions on the market today – many of which have benefitted from EU research funding – that are helping older people to live independently and avoid isolation, while maintaining an active mind and a healthy body.

Crucially, many of the latest sensor-based innovations are able to spot warning signs of unusual behaviour quickly and ensure that help and support services are alerted in case the person concerned falls or becomes unwell.
Under Horizon 2020, the EU will continue to fund research and innovation in this strategically important area, promoting active and healthy ageing among the EU population.

As for the future, it is possible that the smart appliances we see springing up in people's homes today – whether for ageing, health, energy efficiency or entertainment – could be working seamlessly together in the smart homes of tomorrow.

 

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Fall detection sensor - Sense4Care

A spin-off company of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain), Sense4Care, has been created to commercialise the results of two EU-funded projects, FATE (CIP) + Help (AAL JP).
Help project has created a sensor that detects PD symptoms. Fate project has resulted in a fall detection sensor.
 

 

 

 

Picture of two persons playing together the Sociable game

Support for cognitive training - Sociable

SOCIABLE introduces a radically new approach for ICT assisted cognitive training and social activation for a wide range of senior citizens, including cognitive intact elderly, older adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment, as well as patients suffering from mild Alzheimer’s disease. SOCIABLE supports personalized cognitive training interventions designed according to medically sound principles covering all the cognitive skills. The applications support a novel approach combining the conventional human care factor with an ICT surface computing platform.
Sociable is the result of a FP7 project.
 

 

 

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Memory assistant - Memas® - Mylife

Memas® is a tablet equipped with applications that allow cognitively impaired elderly  to keep track of their own daily lives and to reconnect with their families. The applicatiosn were first developed and tested in the Mylife project (AAL JP).

 

 

Picture of Robot Hector

SCITOS G3 aka Hector -  Companionable

SCITOS G3 is a highly interactive home-care robot system for the support of persons in home environments, nursing homes, or hospitals.
The Companionable consortium (FP7 project) developed "Hector" 's functionalities. It was tested in smart homes in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. Hector can scan the environment and the patient’s body to determine if the person has fallen or has high blood pressure. It can provide entertainment, and memory and cognitive training, or reminders for day-to-day tasks (such as taking medicine) and can also offer communication lines with relatives and doctors. The results show that Hector really helps patients in the early stages of their condition such as Alzheimer’s disease and delay its evolution.
 

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Imedipac – the connected pill dispensary

Imedipac can track treatment remotely. It is composed of a secure medipac pill box with its NFC chip and an electronic box with diodes, sensors, a GPRS device and measurement algorithms.


 

Picture of the Bestic device

 

Eating assistive device – Bestic

Bestic is a small, robotic arm with a spoon in the end that can easily be manoeuvrable. By choosing a suitable control device, the user can independently control the movement of the spoon on the plate and chooses by himself/herself what and when to eat.

 
 

Picture of the Care@home device

Care@Home

Using sensors and intelligent algorithms, Care@Home™ learns the daily habits and behaviours of individuals and alerts for any deviation of the daily routine that may indicate potential health condition change. Care@Home™ will automatically notify a call centre or a caregiver in case of any warning sign or emergency incident, such as skipping meals, reduced activity, or spending an unusually length of time in the bathroom.