The advances in information, communication and micro — technologies are leading to the introduction of new devices that can transform our living environment. One of the most promising fields of applications for domotics is the home of elderly citizens, whose aim is to live independently. The challenge today is to integrate different domotic technologies into a service framework that is really useful and is sustainable in terms of financing: this article sets out to discuss a possible pathway to independent living.
The demographic changes in the developed countries, which is leading to the so called ‘inversion of the demographic triangle’, will have a most dramatic impact on these societies. An increasing number of older citizens, with reduced physical and mental abilities and most often also with chronic and degenerative diseases, will need support in order to remain independent and ‘age in place’ in their homes. Independent living is an important target not only because it usually represents a strong wish of the older person, who wants to maintain a good quality of life, but also because it reduces the burden on hospitals and long term care facilities, which represent expensive care settings. ‘Ageing in place’ is an important element of a new strategy for increasing the quality of healthcare while keeping costs under control: moving from what Andy Grove, Chairman of Intel Corp., calls the ‘mainframe age’ of healthcare to a more distributed model, where each single house becomes a setting for preventing or managing diseases.