The shortage of healthcare workers has led to a demand for computer-based solutions that will allow elderly people to live in the own homes. However, the technology needed to care for the elderly is expensive, and different standards in home sensors create additional hurdles. To solve these problems, the European Union launched a series of projects to make it easier for industry to develop new equipment for elder care, including a project called Mpower, which was dedicated to creating a computer platform that could be used in numerous projects and fit a wide variety of needs.
The project is testing a simple communication system based on a computer screen. The system does not need a keyboard, and features a touch screen that uses large, simple to understand icons. The screen can be used by family members and healthcare professionals to remind elderly residents to take their medication, perform other tasks, or when care givers will be arriving. The screen can relay information to care givers to inform them of whether the resident's appointments have been kept.
Since last summer, several elderly people have been testing the system, which uses sensors and a global positioning system to provide smart solutions in the home and alert care givers if the resident has entered an unsafe area.
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