Toward Healthy and Successful Aging: Intelligent Home Care Environments for the Elderly
Due to increases in chronic diseases, hospital costs, and aging populations, home care has become a growing worldwide trend in elder care. This research proposes Intelligent Home Care Environment (IHCE) as a solution that can assist the elderly with physical and cognitive functioning, while reducing costs and avoiding the social and cultural problems associated with current solutions.
In order to research the interrelationship between the elderly and their physical environments in home care, this study starts with ecological models (Satariano, 2006) of human-environment relationships and the disablement model (Verbrugge & Jette, 1994) that is used in the epidemiology of aging and gerontology. Then, Acupuncture Theory (M.-T. Chen, 2000; Zhang & Rose, 2001) is employed as a metaphor/model for formulating a Dynamic Multi-Agent System (DMAS) that can dynamically respond to ever-changing events in the environment; this is a way to design the physical environment as a "living ecology". Finally, to consider how the elderly are assisted in home care from a social and cultural perspective, quantitative and qualitative case studies describe how personal and cultural tastes affect the user's physical and cognitive functioning. The Healthy Aging Network Study provides the representative samples for system testing and evaluation.
The objectives of the IHCE are to assist the elderly through the optimization of safety, adaptability, and resource efficiency. From the viewpoint of gerontology, successful aging requires three attributes: 1) Low risk of disease and disease-related disability, 2) High mental and physical function, and 3) Active engagement with life (especially socially engaged) (Rowe & Kahn, 1997). With the assistance of IHCE, the elderly may live more independently, have higher self-confidence, and enjoy successful, well-balanced, and healthy aging.