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The Future of 8-Bit Microcontrollers in In-Home Elderly Care
Not enough money, nowhere near enough elderly care facilities, and a changing world that leaves many elderly people with nowhere to turn. These are the symptoms of a population of adults over age 65 that is growing at three times the rate of the population of family members that are available to care for them. Observing the growth rate of the world’s fast-aging population suggests that those who experience middle age in the year 2050 will be three times more likely than they are now to be responsible for the care of many of the projected two billion-plus elderly. These are stark numbers, and yet these numbers are increasing at an alarming rate; they suggest that many elderly will require some level of assistance but have no one around to help.
As we get older, several natural tendencies may occur: Folks are not as active as they once were; they may often be sedentary, sitting and reading or watching television more than they did before. These are not bad things, certainly, but we’ve already learned that prolonged periods without physical movement can result in insufficient exercise, which can subsequently lead to other types of health problems. Often, people become more forgetful as they age, and even forgetting simple things such as taking the medicine, feeding the cat, or even scheduling a grocery delivery can ultimately lead to a lack of independence.
In addition, it’s not unrealistic to predict that a large percentage of people will reach a point in which they will prefer to “age in place.” People who have worked all of their lives to own their home simply want to stay in it as long as possible. However, they will need a little help to remain independent – help that can also lighten the demand for costly services. That’s where new emerging technologies can play a meaningful role. Many people, as they age, are facing challenges that are completely new to them, and they will simply need a little technological help ensure that their healthcare needs are met.
So just what is the solution that can not only assist overburdened caregivers, but even allow the aged to remain longer in their own homes and stay independent at managing their own healthcare needs?
Imagine a smart 8-bit microcontroller that can enable people to live independently, for much longer, and without requiring additional support from the healthcare systems that are currently in place. Indeed, an MCU-controlled sensor installed in an aging parent’s home could detect patterns which, when they vary from the norm, could be set to alert a remote healthcare service to respond and/or intervene when needed. While privacy could be a concern in such a situation, safeguards could be built into such a monitoring system for assisted living in order to allow people to stay in their own homes longer.
Isn’t that a far better alternative than being uprooted and moved to a care facility where you may not feel as comfortable?
Let’s look at a set of microcontroller-based sensors which could cover a gamut of situational needs for folks desiring to continue living in their own homes. For example, the safe monitoring process mentioned above could allow a caregiver to “check in” and observe simple lifestyle patterns that would help to make determinations and suggestions for ensuring a person’s quality of life.
Having a smart, scalable “independent living network” in place can assist with many everyday tasks by providing reminders or warnings which can inform a person that, for example, the tea on the stove is boiling over. Getting a little reminder about that doctor’s appointment scheduled for this afternoon can lead to better personal healthcare management. Many of these “technical helpers” merely require a microcontroller to process information based on the function(s) for which they are designed. By design, these technical helpers can be interconnected to provide a platform solution that can assist elderly living, with the end result being a person’s self-determined path to stay independent far longer.
Tomorrow’s need is already on us today, yet 8-bit microcontrollers will play a far larger role than many now imagine. The actions we take today will be the ones we ourselves will live with tomorrow, through creative solutions that leverage smart MCUs. As a result, we will protect not only our aging loved ones who can then enjoy a better quality of life, but we will also creatively leverage those wonderful microcontrollers so that we, like our parents, can live more independently in the future.
What is the right technology solution for a huge global need? Statistically speaking, our world faces a looming crisis that – while it doesn’t hit the headlines often – will eventually affect every single person on our planet, and affect us in crucial ways. The crisis? Our aging population – and an avalanche of need that could likely fall upon the shoulders of us all.