Robyn Madden made a name for herself back in the early 70s photographing bands. Small but feisty, she was a match for any of the big names that wanted to play prima donna in her California studio. There is a good chance that some of the old iconic images you associate with Metallica or Guns N’ Roses are her work. She is retired now, happy to sit down and reminisce about those heady days – if you can catch her. Robyn and her fellow photographer husband have just returned to their London apartment after a long trip driving around New Zealand. They soon head off to Portugal.
The two are obsessively curious about the world. But the reckless days are behind them. They buy annual travel insurance to cover any mishaps during their trips, but what really worries Robyn is her father, Frank. Aged 92, he is still active and alert, living alone on the U.S. West Coast. When she goes on her average of seven trips a year, Robyn ensures she is in email or phone contact with her father. Still, she would be happier knowing someone was checking on him regularly. Enter home and health monitoring services.
As more countries super-age (when 21 percent or more of the population is aged 65 and older) the demand for such services is expected to rise going forward. Typically, such services unobtrusively monitor human activity in either independent or assisted-living situations by using sensors. Sensors can, for example, record how many hours a person sleeps, if cupboard or refrigerator doors are being opened or electrical devices are being used.
If the sensors pick up a change in the daily patterns, a caregiver is notified. Depending on the service, the caregiver could be a relative, a call center or both. The idea is to not only respond to emergencies — such as a sudden lack of movement – but also to identify early warning signs of illness even before the patient notices it. AWP offers such a 24x7 service. In France, for example, AWP has 80,000 subscribers. It responds to 860,000 alarms a year. So far, AWP has responded to 120,000 interventions – 30,000 of which were emergencies. Robyn is considering such a solution for her father.
Maybe for herself too someday.
“I can see a time – hopefully many years from now – when I may want such a service to continue to live independently into a grand old age. I know my son will worry about us, but with such a service he can live his own life a little easier.”