Smart homes for the elderly

Technology is revolutionising almost every aspect of our lives at an unbelievable pace. It’s infiltrating and penetrating every facet of our daily routines, no matter what age or demographic.

One of groups that it is helping the most is those that are at risk. The elderly, for example, have found that a lot of technological advancements are allowing them to either regain or keep their independence as they grow old.

Why age in place?

Baby Boomers are the largest generation by far, and it’s estimated that when they retire, the number of retirees will vastly dwarf the amount of workers in the economy needed to support them.

When you combine this with the fact that the care system is extremely expensive, well beyond what normal families can afford, and the fact that care doesn’t tend to be effective, you start to see why smart homes for the elderly make sense.

Aging at home is found to be much better for elderly people, having marked improvements in health – especially rates of depression and cognitive ability.

Which is why smart home systems are a logical choice for the elderly. If you’re able to create a home environment that is safe for elderly people, then it makes sense for them to live there for longer.

Smarter homes for a smarter age

Technology is coming on leaps and bounds. There are many advances in technology that most people would consider lazy, but these can be real life savers to the elderly.

Automation can regulate a home without much help. Systems such as Nest thermostats can regulate the temperature of the home, while Nest Cameras can keep an eye on any unwanted guests who might approach the door.

Falls, which are one of the most common issues that elderly people face, can be incredibly serious if someone lives alone. It’s not uncommon for elderly people to be laying on the floor for several hours before help gets to them

However, smart home systems – such as sensors – can reduce the risk of dangerous falls. Sensors can alert other family members or close friends if they do not detect any movement for a little while. Alternatively, ceiling mounted sensors which look like smoke detectors, can recognise if anyone has fallen over immediately.

Medication is another problem that a lot of elderly people face. It can be hard to remember which pills to take when. However, through the use of smart pill tubs, which have sensors in each compartment, elderly people can easily know if they have or have not taken the recommended dosage each day.

The applications for smart technology to the home are limitless, improving the lives of the elderly in so many different ways.

Get your parents to buy into it

If you’re trying to sell the idea of a connected home to an elderly person you know, for example your parents, it can be a bit of a difficult sell. Often, many people will see the idea of a connected home as an invasion of their privacy, rather than a tool to help them stay independent.

In order to help them feel safer, there are some steps you can take to break this down into a more manageable and more agreeable idea.

1.       Include them in the conversation

This is often one of the most crucial steps to helping sell the idea of a connected home. Often, parents will not like talking about this, as they see it as role reversal. Too often, this can become a tug-of-war.

To combat this, make sure you listen to their concerns, but also voice your own too. Have a proper, honest discussion about it, where both sides have the chance to voice their concerns.

2.     No cameras

Stress that there will be no cameras. Many participants of smart homes feel that cameras can feel like too much of an invasion. Nobody wants to live in a house that is straight from 1984.

Instead, stress the fact that many sensors will be just that, sensors. No cameras, no peeping toms.

3.     Pick easy to use devices

New technology can often be very intimidating, especially to the elderly. Something that is too difficult to use will put people off entirely.

When picking a device, make sure that it works flawlessly. CNET has a good list of smart home devices that are easy to use.

4.     And write down the instructions!

If your parents (or grandparents) do not know how to use the devices in their home, they’re not going to be very helpful. Write down clear, concise instructions for use and keep them somewhere easy to locate.