As our parents and grandparents age, it is normal to be concerned about their safety, especially if they live alone. But if your family is like mine, you know how important independence is as people grow older and live longer. With the new smart homes for elderly people, my parents can live independently, which provides them a better quality of life and gives me the reassurance of knowing they are okay.
New smart tech solutions allow people to stay in their homes longer, and make their lives easier. These solutions for older and physically challenged people can help them live a lifestyle that gives them support and independence.
Smart home technology has been around for a while, but until recently it was more about convenience than anything else. As companies started to look at the needs of the elderly and physically challenged, they realized that smart technology could be used to create smart homes for the elderly that could enhance their way of living.
This created a new focus on smart technology that could help people stay in their homes longer and have an easier way of life. From hands-free controls to updated home alert systems the growth of the assistive domotics industry’s future is bright.
What is Assistive Domotics?
Assistive domotics is an industry dedicated to creating smart solutions that can meet the needs of older or physically challenged persons. This type of home automation is designed to help people live in their homes longer and reduce the amount of time they spend in nursing homes and other facilities.
Studies have shown that individuals who can remain in their home live longer and happier lives, but until the emergence of the assistive domotics technology, it was often impossible for someone to stay in their home if they had a physical or mental condition that required care.
So how can the use of assistive domotics create new smart homes for the elderly? It is really about pairing existing technology with new options that can provide a complete solution for someone living on their own.
One of the best known smart technologies is the quick response button; this is something that has been around for a while. Worn as a necklace or bracelet it allows someone to press a button to get help if they are in an emergency situation. Some of the assistive domotics you can find on the market today include:
- Alarms on doors, appliances, and smoke detectors that emit a louder alert for people who are hard of hearing.
- Smart timers and reminders that can tell someone they need to turn off an appliance and that locked the doors at a scheduled time.
- Secure ways to distribute medication that ensures a person is only getting the dose they need when they need it.
A. Eyesight & Hearing Assistance:
As we get older our senses usually detioirate slightly. We can no longer see in the dark as well, we can’t hear certain sounds within a certain range of decibels and reading small print becomes more burdesome. Here are a few products that have helped our elderly still function and remain safe at home.
- Smart Smoke Detectors: The Nest Protect Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm works like a traditional smoke detector alarm with the added benefit of being able to send an alert to your phone when it is set off. Having this notification sent to a caregiver as well can give the family a peace of mind.
- Medication Reminders: Taking medication in a scheduled format is essential for the wellbeing of any patient, but as we are older the consistency becomes even more important as our bodies become more fragile. Worse still, is that as we age, remembering to take the pills can exacerbate an already sensitve body. The GMS Med-E-Lert 28 Day Automatic Pill Dispenser has a loud alarm and flashing light to assist with the the hearing and sight impaired.
B. Limited Mobility
For the elderly who no longer have the mobility to do the day to day monotonous tasks, there is a myriad of products which serve just this purpose. In fact it is probably the smart homes most important advantage when everything can be operated and or controlled without so much as lifting a finger.
- Control smart devices with your voice
Smart homes can also use voice recognition to help someone turn on the television, or lock the front door. By giving a simple voice command someone who has arthritis could open a door, or turn on the oven. Additionally, a voice operated system can make it easier for someone who may struggle with locking a door or window. It can also call you every time your mother complains that you don’t call enough. So unless you want like 30 calls a day, call your mom more often.
The Amazon Echo is a voice recognition smart hub which allows you to connect with the internet and various other smart devices around the home. You can talk directly to a visitor via the smart doorbell camera mounted on your front door smart and control the smart lock on your door to lock the door without having to go downstairs.
- Answer the door from the comfort of your couch or bed
The smart doorbell cameras which have already have secure integrations with the Amazon Echo include the Ring Video Doorbell Pro (check prices at Amazon) and the Doorbird Video Doorbell D202 (check prices at Amazon).
- Unlock the door for family, friends and medical staff
The only smart lock which currently already operate with the Amazon Echo include the August Smart Lock (Check prices at Amazon) and in order to connect with Alexa however you will also need the August Smart Bridge. At this stage it is only possible to lock the door via Amazon Echo, however via the August Smart Lock Application it is possible to unlock it to allow visitors or medical staff to enter.
- Control lights and appliances in the house
The Amazon Echo also allows the user to turn on and off lights and appliance in the house via a connection with the Belkin WeMo Switches, to avoid having to unnecesarily move around
- Keep the house or apartment clean
There are many items that you can find that are cost effective. Consider things like a robotic floor vacuum, which is cool, unless you have a cat riding on it; then it’s amazing. Using automated vacuum cleaner is an easy way to ensure our elder family members homes and rooms are kept clean and hygeine is maintained constantly. The iRobot Roomba 650 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner uses sensors to move around your home, to enure it reaches every corner. It utilizes 3 different cleaning modes to agitate, brush and suck all unwanted material. Additionally it automatically docks and recharges when needed, so there is no need to constantly monitor the device.
- Convenience when operating appliances
You can also get larger television remotes such as the Gmatrix u43 Big Button Universal Remote to make it easier to find channels and turn things on and off and power outlets that are timed to shut off at a particular time.
C. Failing Memory
As our loved ones get older, their memories are often impacted significantly. This can be exacerbated by the onset of Alzheimers. This can be a particularly frustrating and emotionally draining time for not only the person afflicted but for their family as well. These are some solutions which can give some peace of mind to family to make sure their loved one is ok, when being with them 24-7 isn’t an option.
The ability to use sensors to monitor everything from medical equipment to kitchen appliances can ensure that seniors are safe if they forget to turn the stove off. These sensors can detect when something has been left on, or if a critical piece of equipment is malfunctioning.
- As people age, they can get forgetful, and sometimes lost. If you are concerned about your parent or grandparent getting lost, you can invest in a wearable GPS device (such as the Yepzon One Person Locater GPS Locator); this allows you to download an app that can tell you where they can be found any time of the day or night. But if you track them going out on a late night beer run, just remember you in college and let it go.
- The Hero Health Dispenser https://herohealth.com/ is a new product to the market and dispenses medication to multiple users and predefinied intervals. The most relevant feature for the elderly is the ability to send notifications each time the medications is taken, and an alert everytime medication hasn’t been taken.
D. Emergency & Response
A fast response time to an emergency life threatening situation is essential for a longer and happier life for our elderly family members. There are several different types of devices which use different types of triggers for an alert.
- Triggered by User: The Life Link Response Medical Alert System includes a alarm pendent and a watch for the user. These devices then connect to the central unit which upon been triggered, will call up to 3 phone numbers indicating an emergency.
- Triggered by Event: Sometimes it is physically not possible for the elderly user to trigger the alarm, in these instances there are devices that can trigger upon a fall from a chair or a bed. The Smart Caregiver TL 5102MP Motion Sensor and Pager will register if the elderly person gets out of bed or a chair unexpectedly.
The Complications of Smart Homes for Elderly:
- Cost Effective Solutions for Mundane Activites
When you are looking at building a smart home, the cost can be a concern. And while things like voice recognition systems and motion detection sensors can get pricey there are still things you can do to give your parents or grandparents a home that may not be Harvard smart, but you could still get to maybe private college smart.By investing in talking thermostats and video doorbells, you can provide a safe and easy to use solution. Even if you are on a budget, there are a lot of wallet-friendly options to keep your family safe.
- Complexity of Smart Devices
Your parents or grandparents will need a smartphone and know how to use it for some of these more complex devices, so if they aren’t tech savvy you may want to take a day off to help them get set up. Once they are set up, these smartphone apps can allow them to turn on and off your appliances. So they can preheat the oven from anywhere in their home, which is awesome if you struggle with knobs or pressing buttons. You can also use phone apps to help adjust the temperature in your home, or use a smart doorbell app [link to best doorbell camera] to unlock the door when someone you know is visiting.
With new apps being created daily to help with everything from opening doors to lowering the blinds it will continue to improve and enhance the lives of our parents and grandparents. And with all this sweet technology your kids will want to visit grandma more often which means you get some kid free time.
- Smart Homes for Elderly Improve Quality of Life:
The good news is we are all living longer; the better news is that new technology is creating a smart home for the elderly that gives them the independence they want and the support that they need. It can be challenging to care for an elderly family member, losing freedom is a hard thing for anyone to deal with. And when a parent has to move in with us, or into a nursing facility it can be upsetting, and life changing.
The best news is that new smart technologies are helping people stay in their homes longer. When you know that your loved ones can live successfully on their own, and have their independence due to smart technology, you can start to worry less. But all the technology in the world won’t stop your mother from calling you every day to remind you that you don’t visit enough.