Independent Living for Older Women Could be Possible with Sensor-Based Technologies

A research on older women’s perception of technology led by Assistant Professor Blaine Reeder, PhD, and co-authored by Catherine Jankowski, PhD, at the University of Colorado College of Nursing found that more active older adult women like to personally use wearable sensors and purchase smart home sensors for their older parents.

Reported in Informatics for Health and Social Care, the study titled "Older Women's Perceptions of Wearable and Smart Home Activity Sensors" involved ten women in the average age of 65 years. The research intended to characterize opinions of wearable and smart home technologies for older women. Commercial wearable activity monitors include fitness trackers such as Yamax CW700 and Fitbit as well as smart watches integrated with accelerator sensors; smart home technologies such as sensors fitted in the residential setting which allow for passive monitoring of health. Home sensors include chair and bed pressure sensors, video sensors, activity sensors, window and door sensors, and leak detection sensors.

"Our findings that younger, more active older adult women prefer wearable sensors for themselves and smart home sensors for their parents is important to tailoring technology research for independent aging," said Reeder. Dr. Reeder is involved in informatics research to link the contexts of public health and personal health with an emphasis on three areas: organizational information systems, aging in place, and research tools.

Given the greater number of women who will live into old age and their specific age-related risks, such as high-risk for fracture due to low bone mass, there is a need to identify approaches that help women to age independently. Sensor-based technologies show promise, but their acceptability with older adult women must be understood to promote adoption into daily life.

Dr Blaine Reeder, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of Colorado.

This research revealed that at large, wearable sensors were seen as more beneficial than smart home sensors as the majority of participants had high levels of activities outside their households. Furthermore, both technologies were satisfactory for personal activity data collection, and participants had few worries about data sharing.

Technology insights were evaluated during a larger pilot research headed by Dr. Jankowski to assess technology measurements of jumping activity, which resulted in the funding of her present R01 on DHEA and Musculoskeletal Adaptations to Exercise in Older Women.

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