Smart technology is making it possible for many older adults to remain independent and age in place in their own homes.
For many aging seniors, using innovative technology to manage their own personal care and remain at home longer can have physical, psychological and emotional benefits, according to USA Today.
It can also go a long way in providing peace of mind for both the aging senior and their caregivers. Here are six product categories to consider in creating a smart home for an older adult or one with mobility issues:
- First Month Free
- Wireless units
- Times medication
- 28 medication events
- Syncs to smoke alarm to shut off stove
- Fingerprint smart home lock
Personal emergency response systems
One of the most widely known products for helping seniors remain safe while aging in place are personal emergency response systems, often called PERS, like Medical Guardian.
Available in many forms, including wearables such as a pendant around the neck or a band or watch around the wrist, these devices detect when the wearer has fallen and often feature a “help” button that can be pushed when assistance is needed.
These products allow seniors to quickly reach out for help in an emergency situation and can typically be programmed to call emergency responders as well as caregivers and family.
Many devices include GPS location tracking to monitor the whereabouts of the user and to allow medical personnel to find the user’s location in the event of an emergency. Many brands now offer mobile devices that work outside of the home as well.
In-home monitoring devices
Web-accessible monitoring devices can allow caregivers to remotely oversee the daily routines of their aging parents.
By placing small wireless, motion-detecting sensors throughout the home on commonly-touched items like keychains, the refrigerator door, a favorite chair, etc., caregivers can monitor and check activity patterns to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is happening in the home.
If something unusual happens, the device can be programmed to report back to the caregiver via phone, email or text message.
Medication management systems
According to caring.com, by the time a person reaches age 70, he or she is probably taking about 12 medications.
The inability to take medication unsupervised accounts for up to 40 percent of nursing home admissions.
Medication scheduling can be especially concerning for those with memory loss or Alzheimer’s.
To counteract this issue and help seniors age at home and safely take their medicine, there are many different medication management systems available.
Some options, such as the MedCenter Talking Alarm Clock use light and sound to signal the user that it’s time to take a pill. Other digital systems include pillboxes with alarms like the e-Pill 6 Alarm Pocket Medication Reminder and timers and locks that only open when it’s time to take a specific medication.
Some can be programmed to alert a dispatcher or caregiver when a medication is accessed or even if it isn’t accessed when it should be.
Smart detection devices
To help make home as safe as possible for an aging adult, there are many smart detection devices to consider.
FireAvert’s Auto Stove Shut-off was designed by a former firefighter to prevent housefires caused by unattended cooking.
According to the NFPA, unattended cooking ranges are the number one cause of home fire in the U.S.
FireAvert installs in less than 10 minutes and does not require any tools or professional assistance. The first alert smoke alarm system syncs to your smoke detector and cuts power to your stove when your smoke alarms sounds from food left unattended.
Smart bathroom monitors are also available, which can detect potential water overflow and shut off the water before it’s too late. Besides preventing a mess, it may help guard against potential slips and falls.
In terms of convenience, a smart lock can alleviate any issue of the senior being locked out of the house by programming the door to open by typing a code into a keypad or even scanning one’s fingerprint.
Smart doorbells are a great product to help those with mobility issues to be able to monitor visitors at their door without having to needlessly get up.
They provide a video picture of visitors and display it on a smartphone or other screen for easy monitoring.
This can also be a reassuring safety product enabling the senior to know who is outside without having to open the door.
More and more seniors are participating in a digital way of life in terms of connecting with friends and family members.
Most computers and mobile smartphones have video capability allowing seniors to see their family face to face and remain connected.
There are also separate devices that can be connected to a TV to allow interaction with Skype, in the instance the senior doesn’t have a computer or smartphone.
Staying in touch can help preserve social relationships and family connections, which in turn has a positive impact on the senior’s overall outlook and emotional well-being. Staying connected is an important component of happily aging in place.
As the health of an older population declines, technology is advancing to address the challenges that seniors face when attempting to age in place.
In addition to tested aging in place solutions like safety grab bars, walk-in tubs and widened doorways, new innovative products are worth a look to help aging family members remain happy and safe in their homes.