Incorporating new technology into your home is the latest fad to sweep homeowners. From items such as Amazon Echo’s ‘Alexa’ or Google Home to smart lights and smart alarms that can be remotely controlled. But these items are mainly targeted to young adults and young families. But what about older demographics? What about our aging population?
The aging population and the latest advances in technology are not often associated as going hand in hand. But the truth is, smart home technology can be the key to maintaining a high quality of life for our elderly loved ones.
Loss of independence can be devastating, not to mention a point of contention within the family. But smart home devices can often circumvent issues that, until now, would make independent living frustrating or distasteful. There are a number of areas that smart technology can make a difference.
Low dexterity or arthritis
For older relatives that are having difficulty with dexterity or weakness in their hands performing seemingly simple tasks can be painful and frustrating. While there is no gadget that will eliminate or reverse this pain, there are many smart home devices that change the way we go about our lives and can allow your elderly relatives to live with a lower level of assistance.
Smart locks are a fantastic option for people that struggle with arthritis and strength in their hands. Smart locks use a fingerprint as a digital key. Meaning there is no difficulty trying to find, grasp, insert, or manoeuvre a small key. Similarly, there is no need to remember a door code. Multiple fingerprints can also be added to the lock as well as how long that fingerprint is valid for. You’ll never need to worry about losing your spare key again!
Gesture control devices are a great alternative to the voice-controlled modules that we mentioned earlier. Some of our elderly relatives are particularly hard of hearing and don’t always want to wear a hearing aid 24/7. Some are heavily accented, making it harder for the voice control devices to fully comprehend the commands they are given. And some people simply are able to communicate the way voice control requires, people who use an electrolarynx or use sign language are two major examples. Gesture control devices allow your loved one to use a series of gestures to initiate pre-programmed actions. Some time is required to program the actions that you want available, but this is definitely an option for people with limited dexterity as well as difficulty communicating vocally.
For people that have pets, you can buy automatic pet feeders. These feeders can run on a schedule or you can manually dispense food through the mobile app. Varying models can also include circulating water to keep it fresh.
In a similar vein, automatic, self-cleaning litter boxes are available for those with cats, or small dogs. The box connects to the home’s sewer lines, requiring only occasional maintenance.
For those that love their gardens, you can install smart water controllers that are managed by a mobile app. This app will let you create a schedule as well as tracking how much water has been used.
If you are concerned about taps being left on or accidents going unnoticed, then a leak and freeze detector may be a worthwhile investment. This detector monitors all aspects of the home and will instantly determine if there is a leak, freezing, or even excess humidity at the very first signs. You will receive a notification should any level exceed normal. You can also purchase water resistant powerboards for areas that make me subject to splashes. Similarly, you can invest in air quality monitor that will track temperature, humidity, CO2, and chemicals.
Anyone who has to manage more than one prescription medication knows that it can be confusing trying to remember which medication is taken when, how many tablets, and if they are supposed to be taken with food or not. For people on multiple medications, a companion healthcare robot is a great purchase. This robot can securely store medications and supplements, can recognize you and answer your health questions, as well as reordering your medications from your pharmacy, and even connect you directly with healthcare practitioners.
You can also purchase an at-home health tracker. This tracker analyses samples of blood to provide details on cholesterol (HCL, LCL, and total), fasting blood glucose, triglycerides, and more.
Like limited dexterity, mobility can decrease with age. Repetitive bending or lifting, as well as activities like dragging or pulling become much more difficult. Often this translates into household chores becoming unmanageable. This often seems as though a person is unable to care for themselves. In actuality, they may simply require a new set of tools to help them keep living comfortably.
An automatic garage door may seem like an innocuous assistance item but it can provide great benefit. Reducing lifting and straining can greatly impact life for someone with decreased mobility. On rainy days or late at night, having a dry, illuminated space to exit and unpack a vehicle improves safety significantly.
Mowing the lawn is a dreaded task for people with full mobility. An automated lawn mower is great for those who don’t have loved ones nearby who can help with the chores or don’t want a hired stranger performing the task. Some models can handle up to 1.25 acres with inclines up to 45 degrees! Furthermore, the lawn mower can connect remotely to a smartphone, so you can always check in, no matter where you are!
Household chores such as vacuuming and mopping are important, a clean home is a healthy home. For those who struggle with either of these tasks, or both, there are now robotic vacuum cleaners and robotic mops! These robotic housekeepers are also great for people who struggle to keep up with pet hair or those with allergies.
Window washing is another labor intensive household task that people with reduced mobility will struggle with, often choosing to forego the task than potentially injure themselves.
Automated robotic window cleaners are a perfect solution. Just attach to the window and it will run its course.
Other home automation devices that may be useful include a laundry folding robot capable of folding everything from t-shirts through to linens, automated swinging doors which are ideal for those that may need a walker and struggle with opening doors, adjustable support beds, motion detector stair lights, and outdoor solar bricks to illuminate outdoor pathways after dark.
Smart home devices specifically for the elderly
While digital devices and technological advances present a great opportunity to assist people with different ability levels, these devices will never replace actual human care. The attentive care of loved ones of aged care specialists is valuable beyond measure. What these devices can do, is assist in-home carers or reduce the amount of side care services that carers provide (e.g. mopping, mowing, etc) and allow them to focus more intently on personal care.
ACM Constructions is not affiliated with any of the above listed products, nor do we provide any guarantees on the quality of specific items. We have listed these products to provide examples of products available and encourage you to research the correct products for your needs. If you would like to know more about beginning a smart renovation, contact our friendly team today!