Aging in Place and Technology: How to Use It to Your Advantage
Aging in place has never been a more popular phrase than it is today. With rising healthcare and assisted living prices alongside longer life expectancies, more and more seniors are saying that they’d prefer to remain at home on their own. Being at home also brings comfort and security, and taking care of a home can provide a sense of purpose and pride for anyone. Luckily for seniors, there are many resources available to help make living at home a very real possibility, least of which is technology. There are so many incredible technologically-based options that can help seniors in their day to day lives in their home, from groceries to medicine to keeping in touch with their family. Here are some of these resources that can help seniors continue their lives in their own home.
Home assistants are more popular than ever, and with the available options on the market, seniors can’t go wrong with this technology. Home assistants like Google Home and the Amazon Echo can help order food or products online, control integrated smart home technology, and even send voice messages to family members. Home assistants can also control alarm systems and smart locks and provide reminders for seniors, helping to provide them seamless control in their home. Because they are voice controlled and connected via Wi-Fi, these home assistants are easy to use and accessible for all without much of a learning curve.
Smart lighting systems and smart light bulbs are a simple switch that can make a senior’s life easier and safer. With smart light options, seniors can control their lights from an app on their phone or by using their voice and home assistant. The lights can be dimmed, turned on and off, and controlled in groups by room. For seniors who struggle to find light switches in the dark or forget to turn off lights, this smart home feature can be of great help, and can also be an excellent energy saver.
Another great smart home feature to consider for seniors who would prefer to age at home is a video doorbell. Video doorbells are extremely convenient for seniors. Not only can you see who is approaching or at the door, but seniors can also communicate directly with the visitor. Family members can also have access to the video shown on the video doorbell, which can help them keep up to date on their senior. There are multiple options on the market, and oftentimes the best ones to get can be incorporated with a security system.
Stove Turn Off Timers
A smart home feature that is often not thought of but could be of great help for seniors is a stove turn off timer. Stove turn off timers can be set up with a preexisting stove and come in varying forms, but all can be lifesaving aids for seniors at home. It can be easy for anyone to forget to turn off the stove, with terrible consequences that can often follow. With a stove timer, seniors’ stove will turn off completely after it’s been left for a preprogrammed amount of time, which can help prevent a home fire from occurring. Some of the best stove timers are able to be locked from adjustment and even let off an alert when the stove is about to be turned off.
Sensors are a great way for families to keep an eye on their seniors. Motion-activated sensors can be placed throughout the home and alert family members to their seniors’ movements throughout the day. They can also track how long it’s been since they’ve been active, so if there is concern about the well-being of their loved one, they will know if they’ve moved throughout their home or if they haven’t left their bedroom in several hours.
As seniors age, there can be daily chores and tasks that prove to be more difficult to handle. One of these tasks is vacuuming. Not only are vacuums heavy to pull in and out, but they can also be difficult to maneuver from room to room. A solution for this is a robotic vacuum. Robot vacuums are small, take up little space and are light. They are often controlled with a phone app, with options to set up timers for regular vacuuming. “Virtual walls” can also be set up, keeping the vacuuming from going in unwanted areas, and some can even be voice controlled, connected to Wifi or use a camera stream for better navigation.
Medical Alert Systems
An issue that can plague seniors as they lose mobility and balance is falling, and the fear of seniors living on their own is an inability to get up or call for help. Enter medical alert devices and systems. These systems can be life-saving for seniors; with just a click of a button on a waterproof pendant or wristband, seniors can call for help in any kind of emergency as well as alert their family members that something has gone wrong. These devices can often come with GPS so that families can know the exact location of their senior at all times. Extra buttons can be place throughout the house as well, which can be great addition if seniors prefer not to be wearing the button 24/7. There are a lot of medical alert systems to choose from, so check the ratings to find the best one for you.
Video Chat Devices
Staying in contact is vital for families with seniors, but if they live far away, it can tend to be difficult to manage with busy schedules and time zone differences. Investing in a device that can make video calls can be a great way to easily stay in touch with your loved ones. Computers, tablets, phones, or other video conferencing devices can be expensive but worth the price to be in contact with family and friends. Video conferencing can be used on Wi-Fi or with data plans and oftentimes these devices will do much more than just video chat. Seniors can use them to control smart home features, order online, read e-books, play games and email or message others. These devices are worth the investment for their multi-functionality and convenience.
Food Ordering Services
A great use of technology for seniors are food subscription and ordering services. For seniors who struggle getting to the grocery store or picking out healthy, satisfying food, a food subscription service or grocery service can make a big difference in the day to day lives of seniors. Food subscription services can be set up for regular deliveries or ordered in a pinch and someone will drop it off right at their door. Because they can be ordered from anywhere, family members can always ensure that their seniors’ refrigerators and pantries are well-stocked with healthy food. Meal plans can be ordered as well; these plans deliver meals with all the ingredients included and directions that are easy to follow, which can provide a great deal of ease for seniors who struggle making meals on their own.
It can be difficult to remember to complete daily tasks at any age, such as taking out the trash, setting an alarm system or cleaning out a litter box. An important daily task that can be more serious if forgotten, however, is taking medication. Taking medications on time and at the rate it is prescribed is extremely important, and luckily, there are machines and devices that not only remind seniors to take medicine, but dispense it in the correct dosage. With these devices, the medications will alert seniors with an alarm at the specified time and will distribute out the correct amount. These tools can be locked as well to ensure more medicine than necessary is not taken, and can be refilled when needed.
Car Service App
If you or your loved one is struggling to or is unable to drive, a car service app may be a great way to combat the lack of mobility. Services such as Uber and Lyft can be set up with a credit card in advance, a home address can be pre programmed in, and the service can be used virtually anywhere at any time. Family members can also order a car for their seniors from anywhere with access to Wifi or data, so if seniors don’t have a smartphone or don’t want to handle ordering the car, they can have someone do it for them. This service is great for ensuring that seniors can get to appointments on time or even get to grocery stores or meet with friends without being unable to drive holding them back.
Technology can really make a big difference for seniors living on their own. When buying for yourself or your loved one, it’s important to keep in mind what is needed and what level of ability exists when using technology. It can be difficult for anyone to learn how to use a new device, so be sure to find things that have a relatively low learning curve if necessary. Do your research and ask for recommendations from friends to find out what they use and why. Ultimately, technology can make life convenient and easier to navigate on a day to day basis when used correctly, so make it work for you or your seniors’ benefit.