Smart home technology isn’t just for tech geeks who want to kit out their abodes with fancy light bulbs. It’s also playing an important role in improving the lives of senior citizens.
Some companies are specifically aiming their devices at older adults, whereas some mainstream gadgets offer benefits to seniors which might not be immediately apparent to younger generations.
If used correctly, smart home technology can help people live at home for longer and perform tasks they might otherwise be unable to tackle.
If you’re an older adult who’s wondering what technology is available, or you’re a middle-aged reader whose parents now need assistance around the house, this article is for you. Here are eight assistive technology devices for seniors living at home.
Over time, we become more susceptible to conditions that make it difficult to accomplish tasks the way we always have.
Some of those illnesses can cause muscle tremors. If you have a form of “essential tremor” — the medical term for when tremors of the hands (and some other body parts) become problematic — you might struggle to carry out basic tasks.
If you or one of your relatives are fighting essential tremors, you should check out Liftware’s range of products. The company makes self-steadying kitchen cutlery.
Using advanced sensors and motion technology, the cutlery shakes 70 percent less than a user’s hand. The figure isn’t a marketing gimmick. It’s been proven by clinical studies.
Liftware also makes self-leveling products. If you struggle to hold your cutlery straight while eating, it’ll vastly increase the quality of your mealtime, ensuring nothing falls off your spoon.
You can pick up a starter kit for $195.
Most operating systems now include some form of accessibility technology. Microsoft has been at the forefront of the revolution; the assistive tools built into Windows 10 are excellent.
But for some older people, operating system tools are not enough. If your eyesight struggles with bright laptop screens and the tiny displays of mobile devices, you need a better solution.
There are a few products and apps to choose from, but one of the best is the USB Dolphin SuperNova Magnifier. The app magnifies on-screen text up to 64 times — you’ll get roughly three lines of text on your entire screen. All the world’s most common languages are supported.
Because it’s on a USB stick, you can run the program on any computer without needing to follow an installation process, and can fit it easily into a purse or pocket.
Technology for seniors doesn’t have to be cutting edge to be useful. Consider the Claris Companion: it’s a tablet, computer, digital picture frame, mobile phone, and remote monitoring system rolled into one.
The owners can use it to make video calls using Companion’s video chat app, reply to emails and SMS messages directly from the device’s screen, browse the web, and play videos. It can even provide medication reminders, which the owner can dismiss once they have taken their medicine or tablets.
Best of all, when the device isn’t in use, it doubles as a photo frame, meaning it won’t look ugly and out of place on anyone’s sideboard.
Keeping the house clean is one of the bigger tasks facing older adults living independently in their homes. Many have reduced strength, stamina, or physical capacity, making it difficult to use heavy-duty vacuums or to get on their hands and knees to scrub floors.
This is an area where mainstream smart home technology can help enormously. If you or your loved ones reside in a single-story apartment or bungalow, a Roomba is a must-have.
The devices themselves hardly need any introduction. They boast multi-room navigation, a three-stage cleaning process, and a filter for allergens and other microscopic dirt.
Several models are available, but the entry-level Roomba 690 costs just $375.
If you acquire hearing loss in your old age, you might not be aware when someone is at your front door. Choosing the right smart doorbell can instantly eradicate this problem.
One the best options is the Ring Video Doorbell Pro. As the name suggests, the doorbell includes a video feature.
If someone comes to your door, you’ll get an instant smartphone notification and live video feed. Thanks to the built-in microphones, you’ll even be able to talk to the person in real time.
The bell also offers you peace of mind. It’s got a motion sensor so you’ll know if someone is prowling around without ringing the bell, and it has infrared LEDs so you can see your porch clearly at night.
You can buy the Ring Video Doorbell Pro for $249 on Amazon.
I’ve intentionally avoided taking about monitoring devices in this article. A Google search reveals plenty of devices that can track whether a person is in their home or performing expected tasks (such as going to bed before a certain time).
Such devices are very useful in certain circumstances, but they also represent a gross invasion of privacy. You need to have a frank discussion with your family before deploying them around the home.
However, if you’re looking for a happy medium, why not try Reminder Rosie? It’s a senior-orientated voice-controlled clock.
Caregivers can record up to 25 different messages and set them to be broadcast at various times of the day. Think of it as gentle reminders rather than 24/7 surveillance. The alarms are loud enough to be heard from up to 100 feet away.
You can pick one up on Amazon for $100.
It’s an unfortunate truth that the older you are, the more likely you are to have a nasty fall. Unlike when you’re young, you might not be able to jump straight up, dust yourself off, and carry on with your day.
In the worst cases, you might not be able to get up or make it to a phone to call for help.
That’s where the Bed and Chair Fallguard from Assisted Living Technologies comes in. As soon as s senior with mobility concerns leaves their bed or chair, their immediate caregiver gets an alert.
The alerts give the carer an early heads-up, letting them check on the individual to prevent a fall before it happens.
The system costs $225.
8. Amazon Alexa
I’ll leave you with another increasingly mainstream technology that could prove to be very valuable to older adults: Amazon Alexa.
Sure, it might not be great for someone who’s not tech savvy, but if you have physical limitations due to age or illness, Alexa can be a game changer.
Let’s consider Alexa’s features. If you live in the United States, you can use easy to learn voice commands to have Alexa:
- Read the news aloud each morning
- Order supplies when you’re running out of essentials
- Tell you the weather forecast
- Play music
- Control other smart devices around your home
Doesn’t that sound like something that would be perfect for a technology capable senior who has difficulty leaving their home for mobility reasons? Thought so.
Smart Homes Can Help in Endless Ways
If you’re an older adult living at home, using these eight devices could be a massive step forward in both your comfort and safety.
But in truth, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Almost all the smart devices we cover here at MakeUseOf will be just as beneficial for seniors as for other people. In many cases, they’ll be even more beneficial.
What smart technology do you rely on every day? As always, you can leave all your opinions and suggestions in the comments below.
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