portrait of smiling elderly man
Many seniors’ homes lack remote monitoring systems. (Credit: Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images)

For older adults aging in place, monitoring technology in case of emergencies or to report health conditions has become a lifeline for family members and caregivers.

In some of the wealthiest, tech-savviest countries, however, a significant gap exists in monitoring systems. 

Approximately 70% of older adults aging in place in the UK and France do not have access to “advanced” monitoring systems — tech such as fall detection sensors  and voice-activated alerts — according to survey results released this week. 

The survey, which polled elderly residents’ family members, was meant to demonstrate that in addition to the objective health concerns, the inability to monitor their parents created high stress levels.

Just more than half of the respondents lived over an hour away from their parents, the findings showed. Those numbers are similar to a poll conducted last year of US residents that revealed that 45% lived at least an hour’s drive from extended family.  

The study was conducted by remote care company Essence SmartCare and analytics company Kantar.

Other research has shown that monitoring systems do effectively reduce emergencies in long-term care and time residents spend at the doctor or hospital, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News has reported. 

Although American families and their elderly relatives may have similar concerns, the magnitude and quality of both in-home care monitoring and systems within long-term care facilities depends on region and creates an interesting question around flexibility, experts say.

“LTC facilities don’t have a menu of monitoring options you can pick and choose,” Courtney Malengo, founder of strategic consultancy Spark + Buzz Communications, told the McKnight’s Tech Daily. “Everything’s already set up for you. So whether or not home monitoring will be sufficient, or preferable, is scenario-dependent.”

Due at least in part to the need for more monitoring assistance, the medical sensors market is growing rapidly.

Worldwide, the value of medical sensors development is expected to grow 11% over the next decade, researchers recently projected. 

In addition to remote patient monitoring, the miniaturization and wireless capabilities of new devices, coupled with the ability for artificial intelligence to assist with large data sets in healthcare, allow for wearables and other less intrusive ways of tracking older adults and their health.