Does smart home technology prevent falls in community-dwelling older adults: a literature review

Eva Pietrzak, Cristina Cotea, Stephen Pullman


Background: Falls in older Australians are an increasingly costly public health issue, driving the development of novel modes of intervention, especially those that rely on computer-driven technologies.

Objective: The aim of this paper was to gain an understanding of the state of the art of research on smart homes and computer-based monitoring technologies to prevent and detect falls in the community-dwelling elderly.

Method: Cochrane, Medline, Embase and Google databases were searched for articles on fall prevention in the elderly using pre-specified search terms. Additional papers were searched for in the reference lists of relevant reviews and by the process of ‘snowballing’. Only studies that investigated outcomes related to falling such as fall prevention and detection, change in participants’ fear of falling and attitudes towards monitoring technology were included.

Results: Nine papers fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The following outcomes were observed: (1) older adults’ attitudes towards fall detectors and smart home technology are generally positive; (2) privacy concerns and intrusiveness of technology were perceived as less important to participants than their perception of health needs and (3) unfriendly and age-inappropriate design of the interface may be one of the deciding factors in not using the technology.

Conclusion: So far, there is little evidence that using smart home technology may assist in fall prevention or detection, but there are some indications that it may increase older adults’ confidence and sense of security, thus possibly enabling aging in place.



Communication; computerised medical records systems; personal health records; software design

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