Jackie Oberst: The Internet Of Caring Things. A plethora of devices is now available to help caregivers monitor their residents’ health, but privacy is at issue.

His family meant well. Thomas, aged 70, lives on his own since the death of his wife last year. His children send him smart devices to track and monitor his diet, health, and sleep from a distance—respectively, a fork, a cane, and a bedpost. 

But Thomas craves his independence. He struggles with the order and rules imposed on him by the objects that are meant to make his life easier. Eventually he outwits these “smart objects” by leaving the fork in a plate of salad while he eats his bangers and mash, by bribing his younger neighbor with a beer to take the cane out for a walk, and by placing enough books—one of them cleverly titled “Why Should Anyone Be Led by You?”—on the bed to fool the device into thinking he’s asleep.
The above scene, from a video by Superflux Lab called “Uninvited Guests,” says it all. It provokes questions about how people want to live and grow old in an increasingly technologically mediated world. Yet these devices are coming, so long term and post-acute care providers should start preparing. Time will tell if these devices are a help or a hindrance.