- Feb 17 Thu 2011 21:44
- Feb 17 Thu 2011 21:30
- Feb 06 Sun 2011 01:07
Research News February 2011
Elderly people living alone have a dangerous life: after a fall, they often spend hours lying on the floor before their situation comes to anyone’s attention and a doctor is contacted. A new system automatically detects predicaments like this and informs a trusted person. This makes it possible to live an independent life in one’s own four walls.
Ms. K. is vision-impaired and can’t get around very well any more. Still, the 80-year-old, who lives alone, has no intention whatsoever of moving to a retirement home. Most elderly people think the same way. They want to stay in their accustomed surroundings as long as possible, where they can lead an autonomous life. What many fail to realize is that they are risking their health in the process. Cardiovascular problems are more frequent among the elderly, and the risk of falling is more prevalent: one person in three above the age of 65 falls once a year; among those over 80 the ratio is nearly one in two. Many of these accidents occur in private homes in the course of everyday activities, and often at night. Frequently it is hours before the injured are cared for. Even home emergency-call systems are of limited help when senior citizens cannot sound the emergency signal. They may be injured or disoriented, or may simply not have the emergency button on their person. Help could be forthcoming from an intelligent system that automatically identifies and responds to emergency situations such as these. One such solution is under development by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering IESE in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Their project is dubbed “ProAssist4Life” – shorthand for “Proactive Assistance for Critical Life Situations.” Project partners include the company CIBEK technology + trading, Binder Elektronik and the Westpfalz Klinikum.