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Ambient Assisted Living for the Elderly - Solutions to master the demographic change

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1. Auflage, 2013

Bachelor Thesis from the year 2012 in the subject Health - Public Health, grade: 8,4, Maastricht University (Faculty for Health, Medicine and Life Sciences), language: English, abstract: According to Eurostat statistics, the proportion of elderly people in Europe is increasing immensely. While fewer children are born, death is prolonged and people become older. This scenario of demographic changes in the western world raises questions to which answers are rather unclear, as for instance: Who will care for the elderly and how will this look like? The answer to this question may be ambient assisted living (AAL), a branch of information and communication technologies (ICT) aiming at keeping elderly persons as independent as possible in their familiar surroundings in order to postpone hospitalization. The EU plays a major role in developing AAL solutions and enhancing research in the area of ICT, as depicted by the 6th framework programme 2002-2006 or the EU's e-inclusion policy featuring the Digital Agenda 2010, just to name examples (European Commission, 2002; 2007; 2010). However, it remains questionable which challenges AAL - seen as an innovation - faces. The aim of the research in this thesis is to present the field of AAL with relation to home care. Furthermore, the work of the European Union (EU) in the field of AAL is presented, as the EU is a major key player in enhancing research on AAL solutions that help meeting the demands of the future. Moreover, a categorization scheme of AAL solutions is developed through research evidence. Eventually, knowledge and evidence from the research conducted is used to give recommendations for the future concerning the diffusion of AAL and research directions. In order to answer the research question and the objectives, the thesis first presents the theoretical framework that is used for the research, i.e. the Diffusion of Innovations Theory. Thereafter, a chapter on the methodology follows, which is characterized by a dual nature, as it involves a document analysis and a systematic literature review. Subsequently, the paper presents the results of the research, divided into EU actions and initiatives and ambient assisted living at a glance with categorizations of its types and related challenges. Finally, the last chapter discusses the findings, answers the research question and gives recommendations on how the diffusion of AAL can be enhanced.
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