What will happen to us when we get old? It’s the question that we all try to avoid asking, we don’t want to think about our feeble bodies or becoming sick, we definitely don’t want to think about death. But, with an aging population, we must all face the reality that we aren’t going to be young forever.

The dread, for many of us, really sets in when we think about having to leave our homes and our familiar surroundings and move into a care home.

When we think of care homes, we think of huge industrial buildings that smell of disinfectant and are miserable and depressing. We think of old people slumped in armchairs in front of a TV, waiting for the end of their lives.

If those mental images put your teeth on edge, there is some good news. Older people are adopting new technologies, it isn’t odd to see your Gran texting on her iPhone, or talking to Alexa. Why is this good news? Because companies are inventing technologies to keep pensioners safe.

New cameras are designed to assess the risk of trips and falls by measuring unsteadiness and uneven gaits. There are panic alarms designed for people to use during an emergency if they fall or need immediate assistance.

Even voice control technologies, like Alexa, are playing their parts. Seniors are using AI for companionship, it is making them feel less alone.

In the not-to-distant future, driverless cars will be introduced, making it easier for the elderly to attend appointments and visit friends, improving their quality of life and allowing people with debilitating illnesses to re-enter their communities.

Most of us will remember the excitement and the sense of independence we achieved when we first passed our driving tests. For the first time, we felt free. Now imagine having that license confiscated, your only crime is aging and you now have to rely on people to pick you up or collect things for you. How restricted would you feel? Would you feel like a burden?

We don’t look forward to becoming old, we don’t look forward to well-meaning family members pushing us into care homes or situations that they think might benefit us. As we age, we find that people begin to treat us more like children, they see us as incapable of choosing what is best for ourselves.

Automatic pill dispensers are already widely used, but additions like smart doorbells, dehumidifiers that distribute medication through air vents, connected smart appliances and holograms of loved ones (for individuals who experience loneliness or those who have lost their significant other) could change care forever.

We do need to start treating our elderly less like burdens and more like people. We need to involve them in their care and look after them in surroundings they know.

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