‘Smart home’ research aims to keep seniors in their homes longer

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In the not too distant future, “smart homes” could be as common as smartphones.

Diane Cook, Washington State University researcher.
Diane Cook

A Washington State University researcher believes so-called “smart homes” might be a way to keep senior citizens independent and in their homes longer.

“We want to provide intervention to increase independence,” said Diane Cook, whose research work in data mining and artificial intelligence focuses on the design of “smart homes” to provide health monitoring and intervention.

Her research has been noticed at the national level. Cook recently was named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

“Smart home” research uses programmed sensors — they look like smoke detectors — to monitor, predict and improve quality of life, particularly in elder care.

As the U.S. population ages, using technology to address challenges is of increasing interest to senior citizens who wish to stay in their homes, care providers and government leaders, especially since assisted living costs can average $70,000 per year, according to a WSU release.

Someday soon seniors might be able to rely on a “smart home” to alert their caregivers or loved ones if they fall or to provide them a snapshot of their week’s activities, Cook said.

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Kristina Lord

Kristina Lord

Kristina Lord has more than 21 years of journalism experience and has been editor of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business and Senior Times since July 2016. She spent more than 17 years at the Tri-City Herald and also worked at weekly newspapers in Prosser, Grandview and Yelm. She’s a longtime member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ William O. Douglas chapter and a board member of Warrior Sisterhood, a Tri-Cities Cancer Center support group. She and her husband have two young daughters and they live in West Richland.

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