Anthropos and One Poll surveyed 2,000 adults aged 40 and over with elderly parents to get an idea of their main concerns during national lockdowns, as well as to identify any changes in perception towards non-intrusive care technologies in the home.
Three key findings that have provided a case for action for care providers:
- The pandemic has changed attitudes towards technology in care.
- 67% of people think their parents would be more open to support from non-intrusive technology now, than pre-pandemic, and 41% of people say their parents would agree to use non-intrusive technology if it gave their families reassurance.
- The research found that 53% of UK adults would like to know more about technologies that would allow them to monitor their parents’ wellbeing, without taking away their independence.
The pandemic has changed our daily lives, with many ‘normal’ activities being put on hold. Whether that has been a reduction in social contact, being more vigilant with hygiene practices or mastering online video calls, our daily habits and perceptions have changed drastically since COVID-19 swept the globe.
It is older generations, however, that have faced the greatest challenges, with many shielding and following stay-at-home orders closely due to their increased health risks. Many older people have not seen friends and family in person for nearly a year; this has raised concerns for their safety and wellbeing, with limited additional care being available.
Fortunately, older people have adapted to this period of isolation, with many learning for the first time how to master FaceTime, Zoom calls, social media and messaging apps to keep in regular contact with their families. As a result, attitudes towards technology have shifted in sentiment. Older people, who may previously have been wary or sceptical about using technology, are now seeing its social benefits and using it far more.
As a result of this trend, we wanted to learn how COVID-19 had changed perceptions towards connected care, especially when monitoring parental wellbeing during periods of long-term isolation.
Unsurprisingly, six in 10 adults admitted they were anxious for their parents’ future after the pandemic, with many wanting to ensure they could monitor their behaviour for their own reassurance.
When it came to adults’ primary concerns over their elderly parents being at home alone, the top five most common answers were:
- They would be socially isolated or lonely
- They may have a fall
- They may become very inactive
- They start to show signs of forgetfulness that go unnoticed
- They are not eating and drinking properly
Consequently, 26% of polled adults said they would like their parents to use care technologies, such as remote monitoring, to support their care needs, with more than half wanting at least a daily update on their parents’ wellbeing.
What do these changes mean for care providers?
Older people’s shift towards embracing technology has been a positive development over the past year, with many adopting new methods of communication that they may not have been comfortable with before the pandemic. This bodes well for the future of care, as more older people become open to incorporating technology into their lives.
Many of our concerns about our parents and older relatives can be eased through connected care, so that even when families aren’t with older relatives, they are able to ensure they are safe and well. Platforms such as Anthropos can identify key changes in the daily routines of older people living alone (e.g. inactivity, increased use of the bathroom, or repetitive actions) and share insights with families and carers so that their care plans can quickly be adapted.
Being able to reassure family members that isolated older relatives are okay, or alternatively identify when they need help can make a huge difference. Equally, older people want to remain independent, and not become a burden to their family. The results of this survey show clearly that attitudes towards the role of technology as part of care are changing and now is the time for care providers to begin integrating connected care into their services.