Yüksel Sirmasac: Digital services help older people

Yüksel Sirmasac on digital services for older people at the Heuer Dialog annual congress on the topic of "Living and care in old age".

Yüksel Sirmasac, CEO and founder of ROCKETHOME, is part of the panel "Living in old age - rethinking care and living concepts" at the virtual Heuer Dialog annual congress on the topic of "Living and care in old age". We have already interviewed him on the topic in advance.

ROCKETHOME is a pioneer in the digitalization of properties and neighbourhoods. How do you assess the potential of smart living concepts for the elderly?

The pandemic is currently showing us clearly that we are dependent on the digitalization of the economy. It helps us to solve problems. What would happen if we didn't have a digital infrastructure that made working from home and home schooling possible?

The coronavirus crisis demands new approaches and solutions in all situations. People aged 60 and over are suddenly considered a vulnerable risk group and are dependent on support. Senior citizens in retirement homes are becoming isolated due to contact restrictions. The current situation poses a challenge for many public institutions, including retirement and nursing homes. We are noticing that we are still encountering problematic gaps, particularly in general digital administration in the public sector.

Innovative forms of work and organization are gaining in importance, which means that digital acceptance has also increasingly found its way into the private home environment. Once the home office has been set up, smart devices often follow for convenience. What began as an investment in the "digital working world" is becoming a natural part of our everyday lives. Because we are spending much more time at home. Whether in lockdown or working from home, feeling comfortable is more important than ever.

Digital services can also help older people who are significantly impaired. Unfortunately, the digitization rate for living concepts for older people is still low. It is important to see not only the downsides but also the great benefits of digitalization. I am pleased that there is now a general willingness for such digital living concepts.

Can trends in digital living in old age already be identified?

Overall, the market for micro and co-living spaces is growing, where the furnishings are designed to be highly efficient and smart due to the small footprint. These living concepts are also popular as so-called serviced apartments. It is interesting to note that the clientele is moving from younger target groups consisting of students or young professionals to older target groups. While this was followed by older singles and professional groups with a second home, the trend has now reached senior citizens. Older people are now more open to digital offers than they were a few years ago.

Another trend can be seen in new builds: expectations of real estate are changing. Modern builders and renovators attach importance to classic smart issues such as security, comfort and energy efficiency. They want to make their homes future-proof and sustainable. They are already thinking about living in old age and see smart applications as an option for remaining independent in their own home for as long as possible.

How can a digital property be age-appropriate?

People with disabilities, such as senior citizens and people with disabilities, can be supported in their everyday lives by a smart home and the provision of digital services. The fields of application and characteristics of these digital services can be individually adapted to the respective person and their needs and living environment. The aim is always to enable the user to lead a self-determined everyday life and improve their quality of life.

Connected products and household appliances with IoT services can contribute to everyday management, comfort, entertainment and health by evaluating real-time data. Through assistance measures such as integrated emergency systems or direct interaction with service providers, a smart home not only supports those affected, but also their living environment.

What digital products and services are available that can support a self-determined life in old age?

At its core, digital services for relatives are about bringing people closer together. Relatives can equip the home using smart technology and build a community around the resident. This makes older people feel safer, connected to their family and allows them to access target group-specific services more easily.

The digital services are mostly used in care and consist of monitoring inactivity and health factors such as the room climate as well as access control for simplified daily routines and protection for senior citizens in an emergency. A smart door lock can be used to automate access for care staff and other target group-specific services such as cleaning and delivery services. If the emergency assistant raises the alarm with the carer, they can give the emergency doctor remote access.

Smart devices can also simplify the operation of household and multimedia devices for people with disabilities. Many people shy away from using them because of the technology involved. Good solutions are therefore those that are easy to integrate and understandable for the person requiring support.

Does this not make senior citizens feel restricted in their privacy?

Our aim is not to monitor the elderly completely, but to offer support. That's why our Care & Security solution is based on just a few sensors and intelligent software - without a camera. The sensors can record information about movements, room climate and brightness and thus provide information about the relative's current situation. If there has been no registered movement for some time, there may have been an injury due to a fall. In this case, an alarm is sent to the relative. In addition, heating and other networked devices can be monitored and controlled remotely.

What's more, senior citizens today are much more tech-savvy and have different expectations of real estate. Smart living concepts can be used and adapted over the entire life cycle. Minimally invasive sensor technology in buildings can therefore be used sustainably: From classic smart living applications for best agers to assisted living for the elderly. This enables people to stay in their familiar surroundings for a long time.

So Care & Security is not only used for at-risk groups?

The digital services can be used in all phases of life and can also be individually tailored to the respective application. The need for care is often rather low until old age. It only rises sharply for people aged 80 and over. In practice, digital care & security solutions are just an extension of a smart home, the focus of which shifts towards age-appropriate support depending on the stage of life. An early investment in a smart home can be the basis for an age-appropriate home.

Furthermore, senior citizens are no longer a homogeneous marketing target group. The classic image of senior citizens is disappearing. Today's generations are healthier, more active, more self-confident and more tech-savvy. It is therefore crucial to design the digital service offering for different sub-target groups and their needs. We are essentially concerned with four classifications:

The "young old" age group - the 65-plus generation - is particularly active and committed.

The "really old", who want to continue living as independently as possible in their familiar surroundings.

The "impaired", who are dependent on care services but wish to remain in their own home.

And the residents of care facilities or residential models, such as assisted living and serviced apartments, with professional care and support around the clock.

Do you also see advantages for the housing industry?

Care & Security can be scaled efficiently. The concept is therefore suitable for single and multi-family homes in the private sector, as well as for innovative forms of housing, such as multi-generation homes and elderly-friendly neighborhoods.

We offer an IoT platform with a wide range of interfaces to partner systems and fields of application. Real estate companies and care facilities benefit from digital management tools for rental units, access management for common areas and simplified tenant communication. Service providers receive an effective platform for their service world.

Your conclusion?

The influence of older people in society is increasing, which brings with it pressure to change the way we interact with older generations. Digital services can help to bring people closer together. Of course, they are not a panacea, but living concepts such as serviced apartment models can be used sensibly for people with disabilities.

Although rapid progress is currently being made, digitalization still requires time and understanding. With ROCKETHOME Care & Security, we want to demonstrate a supportive solution for different participants that is easy to implement.

Creating a smart home is less complicated than some people think. Minimally invasive sensor technology in the building can be used for implementation. Just a few sensors and devices allow a variety of efficient measures and individual processes.

Thank you very much!

If you would like to find out more about Care & Security by ROCKETHOME and innovative living concepts for older people, arrange a no-obligation consultation: Select an appointment now

The panel "Living in old age - rethinking care and living concepts" will take place on April 15 at 2:55 pm as part of Heuer Dialog's virtual "Annual Congress on Living and Care in Old Age". Further information on the event can be found on the Heuer Dialog event page.

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