Hey, Google: How smart technology could help people age in place – CBC.ca

If you’re having trouble organizing your medication or your smartphone just isn’t smart enough to help you answer the door, the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation might have the answer.

The Fredericton facility is offering hands-on learning of smart technology to people over the age of 55 and to seniors with caregivers.

The six-week course will take place at Stepping Stone Senior Centre and Forest Hill United Church in Fredericton. To make the courses more accessible to people outside the city, they have also been offered in Nackawic and Prince William, said Emma Croken, research coordinator on the project

For patients at the facility, they have the option to use the centre’s smart home suite, set up like an average apartment, although one with a lot of cool, if somewhat confusing, gadgets.

Marla Calder is an occupational therapist at the Stan Cassidy Rehabilitation Centre. She is the lead researcher on the smart home for seniors project. (Submitted by Marla Calder)

Marla Calder, an occupational therapist and the co-researcher on the project, said this helps participants learn how various items actually work in the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.

“We developed hands-on education modules that we could take into the community and teach seniors how to use this technology to gain independence,” said Calder. “It’s another strategy to hopefully help combat social isolation and for [people] to become more comfortable with technology.”

Teaching patients how to use smart pillboxes is part of the learning modules at the Stan Cassidy Centre in Fredericton. This gadget help participants track when and what pills to take using a smartphone or tablet. (Submitted by Emma Croken)

Getting comfortable with tech

Emma Croken, the developer of the learning modules, said the weekly classes spend the first hour demonstrating how to use the tech, and then there’s time to play and get more comfortable using the items. 

“They get a chance to learn new things and go home and try them, and then come back the next week and ask questions,” said Croken.

The classes cover basic information, such as how to control lighting, window blinds, door locks and security cameras using a smartphone, tablet or smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Echo Dot and Google Home.

From there, the lessons moves onto more complex issues, such as how to spot a scam and how to create a strong password.

Tech devices to turn on lights, clearly labelled, are used in the smart home suite at the Stan Cassidy. (Submitted by Emma Croken)

By 2038, it is expected that 31.3% of the New Brunswick population will be over the age of 65, according to the aging strategy for New Brunswick, but this kind of information is important for people of all ages.

Medication management is crucial to staying independent and aging at home, which is why the team at the Stan Cassidy demonstrate the use of smart pillboxes to track when — and what— pills need to be taken each day.

“Even just using technology to set reminders for medication is something that can really prevent readmission to hospital or really serious health outcomes,” said Croken.

She adds that many of the participants in the classes are excited and eager to learn how to use the devices they have at home. 

“They have technology at home, a lot of them, and they just …….

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/smart-technology-course-for-seniors-1.6505739

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