As smart home technology becomes increasingly easier to use and more intuitive, more seniors planning to age in place are using home tech systems and devices to improve their safety and security. Because of greater familiarity with technology like smartphones and watches and video-chat devices, growing numbers of older adults are embracing the use of smart home tech to support their wish to age in their own homes for as long as possible.
According to a recent Washington Post report, seniors who want to dip a toe into the smart home tech arena should start by making sure they have a good broadband WiFi connection and a smart speaker device such as the Amazon Echo, Google Nest, or Apple Home to serve as a hub to be synched with other devices. Then, using a voice command, the digital assistant can set timers for lights, make calls or create lists easily. A touchscreen tablet or laptop can be set up to manage an integrated smart home system.
Smart outlet plugs and lightbulbs can help seniors aging in place by creating a lighting schedule to make it safer to move throughout the home, keeping hallways and other high-traffic areas well-lit. Smart video doorbells, smart door locks, and connected burglar and fire alarms offer a greater sense of security for seniors, especially older adults who live alone.
Because medication management is often a factor that hastens a move into assisted living, smart medication aides, and medication subscription services can help keep older adults in their homes and taking their medications as prescribed. Smartphones and watches have many apps that can help with health, finance, and household management as well as provide emergency assistance.
Not all seniors want cameras or microphones keeping tabs on them in their own homes, but these devices can offer an added measure of security, especially when loved ones and family caregivers do not live nearby. Kitchen or bathroom motion sensors can provide a less invasive layer of safety, alerting contacts if normal daily activities are not detected.
The kitchen can be a hazardous place for older adults but a few alterations can make cooking much safer for seniors. In addition to keeping frequently used items within reach, sensors can be set up to automatically shut off an untended stove or oven. An electric kettle with auto shut-off is much safer than a stove-top kettle.
Robotic vacuums, smart exercise equipment, and entertainment devices can all help older adults live their best life at home while staying socially connected, safe, and active. One step at a time and seniors can adapt to and use technology to improve their lives significantly.
Because all of these devices require power to operate, any smart-home system will also require a backup generator for power outages that last longer than a few minutes. Have questions about technology? Visit AARP’s Senior Planet for free online lectures, or to access the tech hotline Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 p.m EDT.