It’s common knowledge that New Zealand has an ageing population, and the country will face enormous challenges as a result.
By 2051, our population of over-65s will make up approximately 25% of the overall population.
It will become increasingly important to look after older people in their own homes for as long as possible to ease the pressure on publicly funded aged care facilities.
In that regard, all kinds of new technology are being developed to assist in the care of older people still living at home.
The concept of a Virtual Village—allowing people to stay independently in their own home but with all the benefits of a retirement village—is seen as a brave new model of care.
In Australia, healthcare providers have offered “telehealthcare” programmes successfully in the community for a number of years and now similar systems have been created in New Zealand.
Despite preconceptions that older people might be technology adverse more and more are bunking this stereotype and entering a whole new world that is a mouse click away.
The trick is to make these initiatives user-friendly, nonthreatening and seen simply as a ‘normal’ part of a daily routine.
An example of technology in action within New Zealand is provided by The Selwyn Foundation through our community services that provide people with the means to monitor and manage their health from the comfort of home.
A simple touchscreen computer that is set up to measure vital data relating to a patient’s health, like blood pressure, blood sugar, pulse, weight or temperature.
The computer also allows the client to video conference with a telehealth nurse and coordinate with their doctor or specialist, to get timely advice and support, all from their armchair at home.