Hi-tech plan to aid elderly

AS THE population ages, a research team at Charles Sturt University is working to transform healthcare for the elderly by utilising the latest technology.

Dr Tanveer Zia is at the helm of the team working to design a cloud-based healthcare monitoring system.

It would work by connecting tiny sensors to the body of a patient to monitor things such as heart rate, blood oxygen levels, the pulse and breathing patterns.

The information would then be transmitted using smartphones and sent to a secure internet cloud storage site.

This would then be accessed by health professionals.

Dr Zia pointed to recent statistics that showed 9 per cent of the population was aged 70 or older.

He said a major benefit of the sensors would be that if an elderly person fell down, the healthcare professional would be alerted.

He noted that could be of significant benefit to elderly residents in remote or rural areas.

“The first goal is fall prevention,” he said.

“When looking at the data of fall rates in Australia, 30 per cent of older Australians fall each year and 10 per cent of those falls lead to injury.”

Dr Zia said the technology could also be applied for purposes in monitoring defence personnel, wildlife and the underwater world.

He said the main challenges were making the sensors smaller and less obtrusive, getting elderly people to sign up to use the technology and securing privacy.

“Our research is innovative because it uses existing telecommunications infrastructure which enables the data to travel over longer distances, which is then placed on the cloud-based platform,” he said.