Active subjects of passive monitoring: responses to a passive monitoring system in low-income independent living
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Passive monitoring technology is beginning to be reimbursed by third-party payers in the United States of America. Given the low voluntary uptake of these technologies on the market, it is important to understand the concerns and perspectives of users, former users and non-users. In this paper, the range of ways older adults relate to passive monitoring in low-income independent-living residences is presented. This includes experiences of adoption, non-adoption, discontinuation and creative ‘misuse’. The analysis of interviews reveals three key insights. First, assumptions built into the technology about how older adults live present a problem for many users who experience unwanted disruptions and threats to their behavioural autonomy. Second, resident response is varied and challenges the dominant image of residents as passive subjects of a passive monitoring system. Third, the priorities of older adults (e.g. safety, autonomy, privacy, control, contact) are more diverse and multi-faceted than those of the housing organisation staff and family members (e.g. safety, efficiency) who drive the passive monitoring intervention. The tension between needs, desires and the daily lives of older adults and the technological solutions offered to them is made visible by their active responses, including resistance to them. This exposes the active and meaningful qualities of older adults’ decisions and practices.