We’ve been dreaming about smart homes for decades, but technology is finally catching up to the point where we can turn those dreams into reality. For the average user, playing music with voice commands or closing the garage door remotely is the height of convenience. These technologies can help older adults keep themselves safe while ensuring that they get to maintain their independence. What sort of smart home technologies should older adults look to install in their homes?
1. WiFi Extenders
This might seem like an odd place to start, but no smart home technology works without a stable internet connection. Depending on the size of your home, a single wifi router may not have the power to support an entire network of devices. The best place to start when setting up a smart home is with a set of wifi extenders to ensure that every corner of the home is covered and there are no gaps where necessary devices could stop functioning.
2. Smart Home Security
For older adults, home security can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s essential to protect yourself and your belongings from break-ins. On the other hand, if you fall and need assistance but all the doors are locked and secured, getting the help you need becomes a challenge. A smart security system gives you the best of both worlds. All you need to do is give family members, medical professionals or medical volunteers that visit your home, or anyone else you want to welcome under your roof a code that acts as a key. Some systems even allow you to assign a unique code to each person, so you can always see who is accessing your home.
These systems take many of the aspects of traditional home security — such as contacting the authorities in the event of a fire or break-in — and pair them with the convenience of being able to disarm your system remotely from your mobile phone.
3. Virtual Assistants
A well-stocked smart home isn’t helpful without a virtual assistant to bring it all together. A virtual assistant like Alexa, Siri or Google can control all the smart devices in your home, turning lights on or off, adjusting the temperature and closing the garage door all with a single voice command. The brand you choose is entirely up to you because the ultimate goal is to make everything work together smoothly. For older adults, another perk of using voice-activated virtual assistants is that if there’s an emergency — such as a fall or an illness — the residents can call for help without needing to find a phone.
4. Motion Sensors
Smart motion sensors are often part of a home security system, but for older adults, they have a couple of secondary uses. They can detect when someone enters a room, turning on lights to prevent trips and falls, and then turning them off again when you leave the room to save energy. These sensors can also send out alerts if they detect a fall or an extended period during the day when there is no motion. They serve some of the same functions as the smart security system we’ve already mentioned, but it’s always good to have overlapping layers of coverage if something fails.
5. Smart Thermostats
Keeping your home comfortable doesn’t mean you have to walk to the thermostat every time you need to adjust the temperature up or down. Smart thermostats — especially ones linked to a voice-activated virtual assistant — can make it easier for people to control the temperature. As a bonus, you can also program these thermostats to turn the temperature up or down, depending on the season, to keep utility costs down and save power when the home is empty.
6. Smart Locks
As we get older, simple tasks like manipulating a small metal key become more complex. For individuals who have reached that stage or simply don’t want the hassle of carrying around a ring of keys, smart locks can be a valuable tool. You can access these locks with a pin code, or sync them to your smartphone, unlocking the door as you approach without the need for a key or code.
7. Robot Vacuums
Chores like vacuuming can get more difficult as the years go by. Robotic vacuum cleaners are easy to use and more affordable than ever. You can program them to clean specific areas of the home while avoiding others, and they’ll happily carry out their tasks without the need for supervision. It might sound silly, but having your own little robotic vacuum cleaner can make it easier to keep your home clean without exhausting yourself or emptying your bank account for a cleaning service. Some brands even make robotic mops too!
Smart home technologies are making life easier for everyone. For older adults, this new tech can also mean extended independence and the ability to live life on their terms.