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Seoul leads the way in smart elder care with advanced technologies

Updated: Apr 2

Seoul, a city at the forefront of technological advancement, is embarking on a transformative journey to modernize elder care services through the integration of cutting-edge robotics and AI technology. Recognizing the pressing need to cater to the diverse needs of its aging population, Seoul is embracing innovation to ensure the health and safety of its seniors in this era of rapid demographic change.

Central to this initiative are AI-based care robots, including companion robot dogs and rehabilitation robots, which are poised to revolutionize the way elder care is delivered. These robots offer a range of services, from providing companionship to assisting with rehabilitation exercises, thereby enhancing the overall well-being of seniors across various settings.

In addition to robotics, Seoul is investing in the development of smart welfare centers and senior centers equipped with state-of-the-art technology. These centers serve as hubs for socialization, recreation, and healthcare services for the elderly, offering a wide array of activities aimed at promoting mental acuity and social engagement.

Smart elder care plans issued by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG)

The city's commitment to leveraging technology for elder care was underscored by the recent announcement of plans by the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) to incorporate cutting-edge technology such as AI, robots, and IoT devices into its elder care services. This initiative aims to address the challenges posed by the super-aged society era, where traditional manual labor-dependent care services may fall short.

Robot dogs and safety management devices

Key components of the SMG's plan include the distribution of companion robot dogs and safety management devices to elder citizens living alone, ensuring their mental and physical well-being. Last year, the city government provided 430 robot dogs. It plans to distribute an additional 50 robot dogs this year for those who have mobility problems or are reluctant to move outdoors. Additionally, safety management devices will be distributed to monitor the health issues of the elderly.

Robots for handling defecation and cleaning

Especially for elderly, bedridden patients, two robots that handle defecation and cleaning are currently being piloted at city-run nursing homes. After evaluating the robots’ effectiveness and safety during the test period, the defecation care robots will be expanded to 11 city-run nursing homes in the latter half of this year. Additionally, robots to facilitate cognitive rehabilitation and motor rehabilitation will be tested in four nursing homes, with plans to expand to five nursing homes in the latter half of this year.

Smart Welfare Centers

Two "Smart Welfare Centers" will open to support the leisure and cultural life of the elderly using smart technology. The SMG will renovate two existing welfare centers, one in Nowon-gu and the other in Dobong-gu, reopening them as "New Smart Senior Place" and "Smart Healthy Lounge" in May and July, respectively. These centers will feature care robots offering brain development content, interactive smart boards, tablet PCs for digital drawing, and smart tables for cognitive improvement programs.

Additionally, senior centers will undergo transformation into smart facilities. The SMG plans to renovate the existing 105 senior centers across 11 districts (gu) into "smart senior centers." Traditionally lacking in-house managers or janitorial staff, these centers pose safety risks. Addressing this concern, the new smart senior centers will integrate a "smart home system" controlling electricity, gas, water, and monitoring entrances automatically.

Seoul leads the way in smart elder care with advanced technologies
Smart senior centers, and Companion Support Team (Dong-haeng Team) at Sinwon Senior Center in Yangcheon-gu; Source: SMG

On-demand digital experience bus

Last but not least, the SMG is planning to operate an "on-demand digital experience bus" in cooperation with the Seoul Digital Foundation to address the emerging social issue of the digital divide among generations. Starting later this year, the bus will visit 50 neighborhoods populated with elder residents to assist them in enhancing their digital capabilities.

As Seoul continues to pave the way for smart elder care, it serves as a shining example of how technology can be harnessed to improve the lives of seniors and create a more inclusive and age-friendly city. With its visionary approach to elder care, Seoul is leading the charge towards a brighter and more sustainable future for its aging population.

Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG)


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