Aging in Place: The Technology You Need
With new advances in technology, more seniors are able to age in place. So what is aging in place? The term refers to remaining in the comfort of your home as you age, rather than moving into a nursing home or other assisted living facility.
With exponential advances in technology every day, living at home is much easier today than it was in the past. For example, architects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are currently developing a home “chassis” that will be the basis for mass customizing your complete home, kind of like Legos. With this new technology, in the near future a smart home can be customized from the get-go.
With around 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, it’s a good thing there’s lots of helpful tech out there to help you age in place. But the first step is to admit that you might need help. Smart home assistants and medical alert devices are not just for the aging, but for anyone who wants to make sure they are safe in their home. If something can help make your life easier and keep you in the home you love, it’s worth giving it a try.
Why do you need aging in place products?
Why might you need aging in place technology? Many things change in the body as we age. It’s harder to get around, especially in the bathroom, getting in and out of the car, entering and exiting your home, and going up and down stairs. These are additional factors that might change as we age:
- Declining eyesight
- Reduced muscle mass
- Poor memory
- Balance issues
- Difficulty hearing
- Decreased mobility
- Difficulty kneeling and lifting objects
- Decreased flexibility
- Decreased confidence in physical abilities
- Any chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, or COPD
With all of these factors and more occurring as you age, it’s a good idea to consider using smart home technology and making home modifications if you wish to remain at home.
Tools to help you age in place
- Home modifications. There are simple modifications you can make to your home to ensure it’s safer as you age. Examples are adding pathway lighting, under-cabinet lighting, lever-handle door knobs, sturdy handrails for stairs, grab bars in bathroom, non-slip floors, and adding a ramp to get into the home. The National Association of Home Builders has published an aging in place remodeling checklist with tips for modifying your home. In some local communities, organizations like Habitat for Humanity can help with making your home a safe place to age.
- Medication reminders. There are many options out there for automatic medication reminder systems. They will remind you when to take your meds and make sure you don’t take too much of a prescription. These can be simple or more advanced systems. Many medical alert systems offer medication reminder systems as an add-on option.
- Medical alert system. A medical alert system, also called a personal emergency response system (PERS), is a great tool to have with you at all times in case of falls or emergencies. Many include features like GPS, fall detection, carbon monoxide monitoring, and more. Compare the top brands in medical alert systems to see which one might be best for you.
- Smartwatch. You may prefer to have a smartwatch to help detect falls, monitor your activity, remind you to take medications, and more. There are several options to choose from, some from medical alert companies and others such as the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear S2 and S3 with ADT Health personal emergency response included.
- Smart home assistant. A smart home assistant is a voice-controlled device that can help you with a range of tasks in your home. For example, it can tell you the time, play music, read audiobooks, and make phone calls. Brands that offer smart home assistants include Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Invoxia.
- Motion sensor. Motion sensors, sometimes called activity monitoring, are very helpful for you and your loved ones. Brands that offer motion sensors include QuietCare, GrandCare, Evermind, and WooHoo. Many medical alert systems also offer an activity monitoring option. These activity monitors sense your motions as you move about your home, and can alert loved ones if your activity is different than normal. For example, these sensors can tell if you are moving a lot more than usual or not moving at all. Sensors can be hidden in your home so that they aren’t intrusive, but you’ll still have the peace of mind that family members will know when and if your activity should change.
- Video doorbell. Video doorbells such as those from Ring and Ezviz are a great aging-in-place product to consider. With a video doorbell, you can see who is at the door before answering, so you’ll be sure to be safe. Also, you won’t have to get up from what you’re doing to see who it might be. Some new video doorbells are in development that have face recognition technology, for even more convenience and safety.
- Smart thermostat. A smart thermostat can help save you money and regulate the temperature in your home. Some options are Nest and Sensi. You can even change the temperature remotely from your smart device.
- Facial recognition robot. It might seem far-fetched, but in just a few more years we’ll be seeing more and more robots that help people out at home. Robots such as Cutii and Buddy are in development. These robots can recognize and interact with people, and help with simple daily tasks.
How to choose aging in place tools
Don’t feel like you have to start off using all of these aging-in-place tools. Choose just a few to make your life easier at home. Enlist a friend or loved one to help you make some home modifications. Today there are many great ways to age in place.
If these changes are not possible in your current home, consider moving into a smaller, more manageable residence. Envision your future as a bright one. Plan ahead to keep your independence and the things you love; stay at home where you’re comfortable as you age.