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Smart Homes for Aging in Place

Remote home control system on a digital tablet.

If you’re like us, you – or your kids — grew up watching The Jetsons, and its futuristic world with flying cars, robot housekeepers and video phones.

And while we may not be able to fly to the grocery store, many of things that seemed like science fiction back in the 1960s are just a part of everyday life now

A senior couple having a video chat with their grandson

Our Roombas may not offer wisecracks the way the Jetsons’ Rosie did, but they are, in a sense, a robot cleaning service. And Skype and other video conferencing tools let us have face-to-face conversations with people all over the world.

Then there’s what’s known as “smart home” technology, which can help people in a number of ways, particularly older people. Seniors are increasingly using smart homes for aging in place.

“Electronically controllable thermostats, lighting, motion sensors, smart doorbells — these are all technologies that have been bundled into the concept of smart homes,” Laurie Orlov founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch, told CBS News last year.

“You can see how they would be useful in helping people remain in their homes even as they felt less safe in the neighborhood or weren’t good at thermostat management or were at risk of falling in their own homes and being left alone.”

Let’s take a look at some devices that are creating smart homes for aging in place.

Amazon Echo1. Amazon Echo

Smart home assistants like the Echo can handle several tasks that might become difficult for people as they age, doing things like playing music, reading books and making phone calls, all by voice command rather than touch.

“As older people remain longer in their own homes, they can keep their minds active and lives engaged with others and find services they need,” Orlov said.

2. MedMinder

MedMinder Jon BoxThis a digital pill dispenser that looks like a regular seven-day version of the same product. It’s designed to help seniors avoid missing doses, taking too many pills, or taking medication at the wrong time.

According to the AARP, caregivers can fill a medicine tray that goes into the device, and then go online to program a medication schedule and see if the user has complied.

The dispenser flashes and beeps, and if the medication isn’t taken, a pre-recorded voice will remind your loved one that it’s time for their pills. The device can also notify family members that medications haven’t been taken, and can lock to prevent users from taking too many pills.

3. Smart thermostats

Ecobee smart thermostatWe’re speaking from experience here: digital thermostats can be a pain even when you’re comfortable using new technology.

That’s why smart thermostats are useful for people interested in aging in place. They can easily control a home’s temperature, ensuring a senior’s safety and comfort.

These thermostats can be integrated with smart home assistants like Amazon Echo, allowing homeowners to control their temperatures without having to push a button.

Smart Samsung Refridgerator4. Smart refrigerators

While these products are typically marketed to – as CBS puts it – “young, busy, and tech-savvy families,” a smart fridge can help seniors keep track of their grocery purchases, and – in some places – order groceries directly from their refrigerator doors.

5. Smart light switches

As we’ve noted before on this blog, falls are a leading cause of injuries for seniors, especially those struggling to find a light switch in poorly-lit spaces.

Smart Light SwitchInstalling a smart light switch allows homeowners to control their lights with a smartphone app or by voice command with a smart home assistant.

People trying to create smart homes for aging in place are seeking to make things safer as well as more convenient for themselves or their families.

That’s our mission at Pennsylvania Stair Lifts as well, which is why we’ve spent decades selling and installing high-quality stair lifts, platform lifts and other home accessibility devices. Contact us today to find out more.

As for flying cars…well, we’re not there yet. Then again, the Jetsons took place in the year 2065, so we still have some time.

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