Dear Savvy Senior: I recently read an article about how “smart home” devices can help seniors with aging-in-place. What types of smart home products can you recommend that can help with this? — Inquiring Senior
Dear Inquiring: There are actually a wide variety of affordable smart home devices you can add to your home that can help make it safer and easier to live in as you age. Here’s what you should know.
Smart home technologies
While most Americans today use technology and enjoy the conveniences they provide, there are millions of seniors who still don’t have much use for it. But you don’t have to like technology or be tech savvy to benefit from the many different smart home automation devices that can help seniors age-in-place.
Smart home devices can also give family members and caregivers the ability to electronically keep tabs on their elder loved one when they can’t be there, which provides peace-of-mind.
If you’re interested in adding some smart home products to your house, you need to know that these devices require home Wi-Fi, and for many of the products, you’ll need either a smartphone, tablet or voice-enabled assistant to operate them. Here are some popular aging-in-place smart home products to help you get started.
Popular products like the Amazon Echo (Amazon.com/echo), Google Assistant (Assistant.google.com) or Apple HomePod (Apple.com/homepod) will let you operate compatible smart home products with simple voice commands.
These devices can also play your favorite music, read audiobooks, make calls, set timers and alarms, provide reminders for medications, appointments and other things, check traffic and weather, ask questions, and much more — all done by voice commands.
Falls are common concerns among elderly seniors, which are often caused by fumbling around a dark room looking for a light switch. Smart light bulbs like the Philips Hue (MeetHue.com) can turn on and off the lights by voice command, smartphone or tablet. These bulbs can also dim the lights and you can program them to turn on and off whenever you want.
There are also smart electric plugs like the Wemo Mini (Wemo.com) that offer remote control automation for lamps, fans, or other electrical devices.
Safety is also a concern for seniors who live alone. Smart doorbells like the Ring video doorbell (Ring.com) would allow you to see, hear and speak to someone at her door (via smartphone, tablet, Google smart displays, Amazon Echo Show or Spot) without having to open it.
Stovetop shut-off: To help seniors prevent home cooking fires, stovetop shut-off devices like the IGuardStove (IGuardFire.com) uses motion sensors to turn off electric and gas stovetops when left unattended for a predetermined amount of time. It will also alert family members via text.
Medication management: Seniors on a complex medication schedule can benefit from a smart medication tracking system like the PillDrill (PillDrill.com) that reminds you when pills are due, tracks that you’ve taken them, and notifies loves ones.
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Home monitoring: Family members can keep tabs on older loved ones from afar with smart home video cameras like Lighthouse Al (Light.house/elderly-care) or a smart home sensor system like TruSense (MyTruSense.com).
Other options: Some other helpful smart home products to consider include smart door locks like Kwikset Kevo (Kwikset.com), smart thermostats such as the Nest (Nest.com), and smart nightlights like Aladin (Domalys.com), which detects falls and alerts caregivers.
The costs for most smart home products range anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred dollars and can be found in many local home improvement stores as well as online.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.
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