With all the high-tech gadgets out there to monitor, track and locate our friends and loved ones, it is only natural that companies would turn their focus on how these products can help our aging population. It would seem that cameras, AI devices such as Alexa and GPS locating devices would allow for children to “keep an eye” on their aging parents allowing them age in place for as long as possible. In theory, the ideas of these devices and their applications are great however there is a fine line when it comes to keeping an eye for safety reasons and the elderly’s own autonomy and privacy.
It is one thing to want to “watch” over your parents and be able to help remotely if a medical event occurred however if they are healthy and mobile and in no imminent danger then they probably don’t want you to know every time they use the bathroom. Even though many of us have the very best intentions, it can be easy to forget that once you reach a certain age, you shouldn’t be expected to forfeit your privacy under the guise of safety. Sometimes, you need to put yourself in their situation and think, “Would I appreciate someone having access to my home and possibly watching/listening to me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without my knowing when?”
If you are concerned about your parents, the best course of action is first to have an honest conversation and explain your worries. You may make valid points they haven’t thought of and vice versa. As long as everyone involved is cognitively able to contribute to the conversation, the decision should be made together on how to proceed with the applied use of technology.
High Tech, Privacy, and the Elder Population