[Updated: October 31, 2023 | Published: November 2, 2022]
If you’re over 60 and would love to live in your home for as long as possible, we have some terrific news! Aging in place is more achievable than ever, thanks to options like our popular Friendship At Home program and a growing array of technologies that help seniors age at home.
“We’re excited at the ways we’re redefining aging at home for Columbus seniors!” said Emily Smith-Conlon, Friendship at Home Sales Director. “We can help you create a plan for future care that includes helpful technology and in-home help, if needed, with activities of daily living.”
“If you want to keep living in your own home, with peace of mind from knowing you’ll have help if you ever need it, call a Life Plan Counselor at (614) 734-2167,” she added. “Our unique membership program covers certain technologies and pays for up to full assisted living or nursing home levels of care in your home if needed.”
Tech gadgets such as voice-activated speakers, smart watches, smart security systems and smoke alarms can make life easier, more convenient, safer and more social for you or a loved one. And, beyond the tools you needed to continue living at home, these technologies can strengthen connections with faraway family and friends.
1. VOICE ACTIVATED DIGITAL ASSISTANTS
Digital assistants – also called smart speakers, home assistants or virtual assistants – have become wildly popular over the past decade. These devices combine a loudspeaker with voice-command functions that operate on a Wi-Fi network.
Three of the most common are Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Assistant. They can help with activities such as:
- Finding your phone.
- Making shopping lists and ordering groceries.
- Listening to news and weather reports, audio books or music.
- Setting timers, including medication reminders.
When paired with smart home devices (as discussed below), digital assistants also can help you turn on lights, open doors and perform other routine tasks – a big help for seniors with arthritis, hand tremors, impaired vision or limited mobility!
And, something as simple as talking to a smart speaker can help ease loneliness, which affects about one in three adults 45 and older.
2. SMART HOME DEVICES
Your smart speaker can act as a central command center, letting you control other connected home gadgets by voice. You also can add a smart display, which is like a smart speaker with a touch screen. This will allow you to control connected gadgets with a few taps.
Adding appliances and devices to your network can make your home safer and more livable. For example:
- You can replace older incandescent light bulbs with smart light bulbs that support app and voice control. You’ll never have to get out of bed to turn on the lights again! Smart thermostats can help you monitor and control your home’s heating and cooling systems by phone or voice, saving money and ensuring consistent heating throughout your home.
- Smart robotic vacuums can keep your floors spotless without your lifting a finger.
- Motorized window shades let you change room lighting at command.
- Smart fridges can analyze their contents and make shopping recommendations.
- Smart plugs allow you to turn anything that plugs into the wall into a connected device you can control from your phone.
And, as discussed below, smart-home devices like home security, smoke alarms and fall-detection sensors also can help address safety concerns that increase with age.
3. SMART HOME SECURITY: SMOKE ALARMS, VIDEO DOORBELLS AND MORE
Safety is a top concern for most Americans, and especially for adults 65 and older. According to the Federal Emergency Management Association, adults 55 and older have a significantly greater risk of death from fire. Standard smoke alarms reduce this risk, but they require regular battery changes, may shriek unpredictably when you’re cooking dinner, and only alert you when you’re in the home.
Smart smoke alarms can provide an early warning if there’s a fire in your home, giving you time to call 911 or put out the fire before it spreads. They also can send you messages and alerts if there’s any kind of problem, or even if the batteries are running low. If hooked into a home security system, they also can alert your security team and dispatch emergency responders, even if you’re away from home or incapacitated.
Smart video doorbells allow you to see who’s at the door, speak to unknown visitors before opening the door, track people who arrive while you’re away, monitor package delivery and combat porch pirates, and act as a security camera.
Besides interacting with your smoke alarms and doorbells, smart home security systems with cameras can monitor interior and exterior doors, windows, and your surroundings. With motion-detection sensors, they also can monitor your activity levels and allow family members or caregivers to check in remotely.
Smart security systems don’t have to come with a hefty installation and monitoring fees. You can easily install some DIY alarms on your own or with the help of a family member. Some home insurance companies offer discounted premiums for homes with these security features. Check with your insurer to see if you can save while making your home more comfortable and secure.
4. FALL DETECTION AND EMERGENCY CONTACT DEVICES
Fall detection and prevention should be a big priority for all seniors. Medical conditions, surgeries and medications can affect your stability and increase your chance of falling. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four people 65 years and older fall each year, with 20 percent of these falls resulting in a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
You have options for fall detection. Most wearable medic alert systems come with fall detection.You also can set up smart watches like Apple Watch Series 4 or later and Samsung Galaxy to detect falls and then contact emergency services and loved ones in the event of a fall.
Finally, some home security systems can use sensors that attach to bed sheets, chairs, or door frames to detect if a person falls and then send an alert to a caregiver.
5. Remote Hearing Aids with Bluetooth Connections
Did you know you can stream music, audiobooks and phone calls directly into your hearing aids without having to use any additional devices or cords?
All you need is a Bluetooth-enabled device and hearing aids that accept Bluetooth connections.
Smart Home Technology Continues to Evolve
While smart-home technology initially focused on security and energy savings, it increasingly aims to improve the overall quality of life. If you’re 65 or older, research has shown that smart-home technologies and related services can help make your daily tasks easier and your life more enjoyable, making it easier to age in place.
New technologies are continually entering the market. Among the latest examples are leak-detection sensors and automatic water shutoff valves for flood prevention.
This increasing array of options can seem overwhelming! If you have questions about aging at home, please call one of our Life Plan Counselors at (614) 734-2167.