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Home » Advocacy » Access Is Everything: High-Tech and High-Touch Care Are Important for Older Adults

Technology continues to play a significant and positive role in the aged-care space.

Jane Barrat Headshot

Dr. Jane Barratt 

Secretary General, International Federation on Ageing

Canadian seniors have paid a high price in the COVID-19 pandemic. Residents of aged care facilities, and many of those who have endured repeated lockdowns in their homes with community support, are fearful and anxious about future restrictions.

Technology increasingly plays a significant and positive role in the aged-care space. It has been adopted to assess the needs of older people, promote independent living, reduce social isolation, and increase social connection. It has also helped to reduce the risk of falling, to manage chronic disease, improve medication management, and support people with cognitive challenges.

In the spectrum of smart homes, home networking has been used for more than a decade through networking devices and equipment in the home. For many, this is an optimal model of ‘ageing in place’ and central to the long-term care continuum — facilitating better standards of care in residential settings and consumer-direct care. Yet, only recently have projects with smart technology in the houses of older people been realized or started.

The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a propellant accelerating the adoption of devices, models, and digitalization—undoubtedly faster than might have otherwise occurred—and leaving some behind. COVID-19 has shown that digital access at home and in facilities is now equally critical to our capacity and quality of life. However, high-tech solutions are not a substitute for personal attention and care, otherwise known as high-touch. Despite the rapid and evolving introduction of digital technology the past year has exposed disconnection between personal care and digitized solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has imprinted an indelible mark on individuals and society and delivering tough lessons in the quest for greater global preparedness for infectious diseases. The launch of the United Nation’s Decade of Healthy Ageing in 2021 marks an optimistic way forward in an otherwise dark global time.

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