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Smart homes for the elderly

Hailey Avatar By: Hailey | Last updated February 14, 2019

old woman thinking outside medical alert systems

Data shows that in 2015, over 47 million people of the entire US population consisted of 65 - year - olds or older. This number is going to double until 2060. That is why healthcare for the elderly is a hot topic and for some, a flourishing business. Being able to continue living in their own homes contributes significantly to the overall health and happiness of the elderly. After all, there’s no place like home and being forced to part with the home you spent your entire life in or your most precious years, is not the most pleasant experience to go through in your seniority.

Putting the elderly in old foster care isn’t seen as the first go to solution anymore, especially thanks to all technological advancements.

The concept of smart home for the elderly is gaining in popularity as more people modify, adjust and upgrade the homes for their parents, senior relatives and so on. Safety, communication and independence are the most important factors to be considered when ‘old-proofing’ your home.

There are a myriad of providers of smart home solutions and services for the elderly. Some are less intrusive and are based on discrete sensors placed throughout the house, while others are based on hi-tech cameras which can be set to offer you live video data 24/7.  You can opt for the solution that best meets your needs.

Senior citizens can now grow old in their own home while being permanently monitored and assisted.

Here are the most common features found in smart homes designed for the elderly:

Motion sensors: these are installed throughout the entire house and they can be programmed to send you alerts if they don’t detect any motion, or there’s too little activity in a specific time frame. You can get the alerts directly on your smart device, through an app. There are also security motion sensors designed to detect any potential intruders.

Behavior pattern recognition apps. There are also apps that have senior behavior pattern recognition (e.g. the Senior Lifestyle System from Qorvo). They can be programmed to learn patterns. If for instance, your mother/grandmother usually wakes up the same hour every morning, has breakfast or leaves the house at about the same time every day, the system can learn and memorize the usual behavior and alert you if something modifies in that schedule and becomes irregular. The system is very unobtrusive and discrete and doesn’t require any cameras.

Medical alert systems. Medical alert systems, or sometimes called personal emergency response systems (PERS) are portable devices which consist in a base station and a wearable emergency button, which is basically a wireless transmitter. The button, which usually comes in the form of a bracelet or pendant, can be worn by people with injuries, disabilities, by the elderly or anyone really who is concerned they might fall or find themselves into an emergency situation in which they might need immediate help/assistance.

Automatic lightning and thermostats. They can be programmed to be accessed at a simple touch of your smartphone app.

Video intercom. It is very useful to see whoever is at your door without actually opening the door or struggling to see through the peephole.

Smart alarms, for security, leaking pipes or smoke

Medication and health apps. These can offer reminders for when the elderly have to take their medication, can act as heart rate monitors and more.

Voice assistants (such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant) can be of great help for the elderly, especially for those who are disabled or sick. You can give a simple verbal command to have your light turned on for instance, without having to move a muscle.

In addition to these smart measures, you should also make low-tech adjustments, as installing outside lightning, adding non-slip mats, installing handrails and grab bars, especially in the bathroom, add a shower chair, etc.