The ageing population of Europe is a well documented phenomenon which has serious implications for everyone in Europe, citizens as well as policy makers and politicians. However, it also holds a number of great opportunities, in terms of engaging older adults actively in society, and in terms of creating a large new market for innovative products and services targeting active and healthy ageing.
One of the issues that the ageing population raises is that of caring for citizens as they grow older. The current paradigm, of placing citizens in residential homes, will become untenable, as well as being an approach that many citizens dislike. New ways of caring for our older population are emerging, ones which are less labour and cost intensive and which engage older adults themselves more actively. In practice, this means that citizens must be empowered and supported to look after themselves, safely, for longer, generally in their own homes. This approach is termed Ambient Assisted Living, or AAL.
AAL refers to intelligent systems of assistance for a better, healthier and safer life in the preferred living environment, and covers concepts, products and services that interlink and improve new technologies and the social environment. It encompasses a wide range of strategies, from relatively straightforward ones such as equipping homes with rails and grab bars, to more innovative and complex ones such as addressing the health and social care needs of ageing citizens with the help of solutions based on information and communication technologies.
This book addresses one of the health and social care issues affecting older adults: namely, monitoring chronic diseases as a preventative measure, to reduce exacerbations requiring intensive medical treatment, slow the progression of these diseases, and improve the effectiveness of care professionals in supporting these people, all in a cost effective way.
The DREAMING (elDeRly-friEndly Alarm handling and MonitorING) project set out to investigate the effect of home monitoring of older adults with chronic diseases as well as social inclusion, both in terms of any clinical effects, the effect on the quality of life of those participating, the economic impact, and whether participants found the approach acceptable to them.
DREAMING was a four year Randomised Controlled Trial carried out in six pilot sites. The project was co-funded by the European Union under the Information and Communications Technology – Policy Support Programme (ICT-PSP). This is one of several programmes managed by the European Commission which aim to prepare European Society to tackle the ageing of its population in an efficient manner, respectful of the dignity and the wishes of the older citizens.
These various programmes have provided EU co-funding to leverage almost 1 billion Euros of investments in ICT research and innovation for ageing well in the period 2006–2013 in recognition of the relevance to EU society of properly managing the radical changes in demographics which are taking place in the first decades of the new millennium.
DREAMING began a couple of years before the EU launched the European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP AHA), and, in many respects, it can be considered a trailblazer, the lessons of which will be capitalised on by the new wave of large-scale pilots which are currently in the starting blocks.
This book documents the results of the DREAMING project.