Christmas can be a time when families come together and see that the health of a loved one has declined during the year. It can also provide an opportunity for seniors and their children to talk about care plans. Families often have time over the holidays as well to research options and make arrangements. It can be heartbreaking to face.

But as scrutiny of the aged care sector grows and the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality prepares to hold its first hearings early in 2019, older people and their families are increasingly looking for alternatives to nursing homes.

Technology has advanced far beyond panic buttons, and now smart homes that use apps, wearables, mobile tablets, home assistants like Alexa, artificial intelligence, and bed, door, and window sensors are helping seniors to remain where they want to be – at home.

Last week, the UK’s largest energy company announced it is planning to put motion sensors in the homes of the  elderly, ill and disabled within a service aimed at supporting millions of unpaid carers, The Guardian reported.

The company, Centrica, which owns British Gas, will use its installers to fit sensors in homes – with the permission of residents – that allow carers to receive alerts via an app if the usual routine is broken, such as a kettle not being switched on in the morning.

Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, which has partnered with Centrica on the project, said the technologies would “give carers reassurance, helping them have a life of their own alongside caring and enabling those they support to stay at home and be independent for longer”.

Australian start-up HomeStay is rolling out sensors and other advanced technologies here to allow people to live independently at home for longer with privacy, independence and dignity. It also gives seniors and their families peace of mind.

Driven by AI, machine learning and predictive analytics, the tech turns data into alerts that can be sent to family, friends and caregivers. The technologies can detect anomalies in residents’ data and provide early warning signals for preventable or immediately treatable incidents in what is a significant advance on how in-home care is delivered today.

With many Australians about to face some difficult decisions over the holidays, it’s important for them to know there can be alternatives to aged care facilities. The technology is available now to help seniors live in their homes for longer.

Find more information on HomeStay’s Intelligent Home technology here.