E-bikes could outnumber gophers, with older people such as George Adams keen to keep up. (ABC News: Brittany Evins)
Robots as social companions, e-bikes instead of gophers and home automation — this is just some of the technology that is being touted as the future of aged care in Australia.
- New centre showcases the latest technology in aged care
- E-bikes, home automation and cameras on display for the elderly
- Organisers hope it will change the perception of growing old
The Global Centre for Modern Ageing — which officially opened at Tonsley in Adelaide’s South on Thursday — has been established to put tech products for older people to the test.
It includes a living laboratory, called LifeLab, where people over 60 can help to design and test the next wave of technology, while being monitored by cameras in a real-life setting.
Premier Steven Marshall was excited to open the centre and said he hoped it would help businesses to develop goods and services for older people to continue living their best life and age well.
“It’s a great initiative that will really be enabling South Australian businesses and international companies to come here, use the lab to explore the possibilities for goods and services,” he said.
The centre’s deputy chair, Anne Skipper, said she hoped the facility would drastically change the perception and nature of growing old, and help keep people in their homes for longer.
“We have a narrative I think that when you’ve retired, 65, you got old,” she said.
Cameras set up in the LifeLab that show how monitoring will occur. (ABC News: Brittany Evins)
“We now look at ageing having a lot more phases in life, as in how you might live your life, how you might want to contribute to community, how you might want to engage.”
She said assistive devices were available that monitored if elderly people were taking their medication, eating the right foods and doing the things they would normally do in their own home.
She said there were also plans through IBM Watson to develop and home robots in elderly people’s homes to be social companions.
“Imagine being able to talk to a robot that can talk to you, knows about your family, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren — it actually connects you back to the community,” she said.
Local businesses already jumping on board
Adelaide Hills business owner Will Rischbieth is working with the facility to help taper his specialist e-bike business, Will Ride, towards the older generations.
“We’re exploring opportunities with the LifeLab … we’d just love to help out where we can, whether that’s keeping people healthy and mobile as they age [or] if it’s rehab,” he said.
George Adams, 81 is one happy customer who is not going gently into his golden years and he’s opted for an e-bike over a gopher — which even has an automatic seat.
“As I aged I found it really difficult to ride up hills without getting tired. Now with this electric bicycle I can keep up with younger people,” he said.
“I’ve joined two bicycle clubs and I go riding with them as many times a week as I can.”
The Global Centre for Modern Ageing said the technology is already beginning to be used in the elderly community around South Australia, and the centre will help take it to the next level.
A number of local councils are expected to get involved in the future to participate and co-design some of the projects.