Authorities offer direction for smart senior care industry

Hu Min
Civil affairs officials are promoting intelligent solutions aimed at rescuing fallen seniors, managing access to senior homes and locating missing seniors with dementia.
Hu Min

Shanghai authorities are encouraging the creation of intelligent products and services to address areas where senior citizens are still under-served or vulnerable.

These areas cover personal safety, senior care services, health services and psychological care, the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said. Specifically, authorities are promoting the development of intelligent solutions aimed at emergency rescue for fallen seniors, the management of admissions at senior homes, nursing of bed-ridden seniors, non-contact smart disinfection and audio communication.

"The goal here is to provide a reference for the integrated development of information technology and senior care services, thereby inspiring companies and individuals to provide real-time, efficient and affordable intelligent senior care services to the elderly," said Jiang Rui, deputy director of the bureau.

The official recommendations are based on opinions from the public and senior homes, and responding products and services should cater to the demands of seniors and their families, be affordable and human-oriented and include supporting services, said Jiang. 

Intelligent senior care solutions are those which utilize information technologies such as cloud computing, big data and Internet of Things, the bureau said. At the same time, they should also take into consideration the psychological and social demands of seniors.

By the end of last year, Shanghai’s senior population had reached 5.18 million, or 35.2 percent of permanent residents. Among them, 819,800 were 80 or older.

Many intelligent devices and services do not account for the habits and behaviors of seniors, nor do they include guidance for use by seniors, according to the bureau.

"Although the city's intelligent senior care industry is showing good momentum, some products could be improved," said Jiang. "The focus is on technology, while the demands of seniors are ignored."

Even among products which are directly aimed at seniors, such as special shoes and clothing meant to minimize injuries from falling down, many never get past the testing phase of production or are too expensive or complicated for wide use, say officials.

Among the focal points where authorities are encouraging development is entry and exit at senior homes.

Some of the city's larger nursing facilities can host as many as 500 residents, and receive 1,000 family visitors per day, which creates a situation where technologies like facial recognition could be used to efficiently and safely control access, say officials.

In the case of emergency health events, intelligent technologies could be used to make contact with hospitals and families. Meanwhile, intelligent bracelets and watches could help locate seniors with dementia who wander away from their homes, say authorities.

Authorities will provide support related to project recommendations and promotions, financing and market application, the bureau said.

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