Technology in Geriatrics


Recently, the interest of industry, government agencies and healthcare professionals in technology for aging people has increased. The challenge is whether technology may play a role in enhancing independence and quality of life and in reducing individual and societal costs of caring. Information and communication technologies, i.e. tools aimed at communicating and informing, assistive technologies designed to maintain older peoples’ independence and increasing safety, and human–computer interaction technologies for supporting older people with motility and cognitive impairments as humanoid robots, exoskeletons, rehabilitation robots, service robots and companion-type are interdisciplinary topics both in research and in clinical practice. The most promising clinical applications of technologies are housing and safety to guarantee older people remaining in their own homes and communities, mobility and rehabilitation to improve mobility and gait and communication and quality of life by reducing isolation, improve management of medications and transportation. Many factors impair a broad use of technology in older age, including psychosocial and ethical issues, costs and fear of losing human interaction. A substantial lack of appropriate clinical trials to establish the clinical role of technologies to improve physical or cognitive performances and/or quality of life of subjects and their caregivers may suggest that the classical biomedical research model may not be the optimal choice to evaluate technologies in older people. In conclusion, successful technology development requires a great effort in interdisciplinary collaboration to integrate technologies into the existing health and social service systems with the aim to fit into the older adults’ everyday life.