With roughly 52 million Americans age 65, or older1, there is no denying that the US population is aging. If you fall into this age group, by now you’ve probably heard of “aging in place”—as more and more seniors are making the conscious decision to live independently in their own homes, for as long as they can. And this concept is only gaining momentum.
In fact, research from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard forecasts that the number of US households headed by an individual age 65 or older will reach 49.6 million by 20352. What’s more, 12% of these households will be headed by someone age 80 or older by 20383.
So, if you’re planning on aging in place—you’re in good company. As the number of seniors opting to stay in their homes reaches new records, the innovation of smart technology is keeping pace to meet this demographic shift.
With the ability to instantaneously connect with anyone, anywhere, at any time and the convenience of having the world’s knowledge base at our fingertips, modern technology has played a pivotal role in changing the way we go about our daily lives—especially at home. From smart security systems to speakers, sensors, and a multitude of other smart home devices, today’s technology addresses many common aging challenges, and is designed to help seniors stay safe and healthy in their homes well into retirement years.
Consider implementing some of the following aging-friendly technologies in your home:
With one-third of seniors reporting a fall every year, and 2.3 million ending up in the emergency room as a result4, falls are the top cause of senior injuries. But you don’t have to be another statistic! One of the best ways to reduce the risk of a fall is by having good lighting throughout the home. You should always be able to easily turn a light “on” from wherever you are—without having to navigate through a dark room. With this in mind, automated lighting can offer tremendous benefits. Smart light fixtures and bulbs allow you to control the lighting throughout your home from a smartphone app—all you need is a Wi-Fi connection. Better yet, certain lights can be programmed to turn “on” or “off” based on your schedule. This not only eliminates the need for remembering to shut off the lights, but can also help cut down on your electric bill.
Voice-Activated Virtual Assistants
You’ve likely heard of Siri, Alexa, Google, and Cortana—and for good reason! These voice-activated assistants are a staple to any smart home and play a big role in making the home more suitable as we age. From functioning as in-home intercoms, to providing helpful information and entertainment, and even making phone calls via simple voice commands, these smart speakers can be especially helpful to seniors living alone and/or with mobility challenges. The best part? Since these devices are powered by voice, there is virtually no learning curve we so often face with most other technology.
Smart Locks and Security Systems
We all want to be safe and secure in our homes—especially as we age. And safety, from both intruders and natural disasters such as fires and floods, is a major concern for the aging demographic choosing to stay in their homes. It’s no surprise that smart locks and security systems are at the forefront of the aging in place movement. A smart security system provides you, your family, and loved ones with the ability to monitor entrance activity to your home, while smart locks enable you to lock and unlock doors remotely or schedule times at which doors lock automatically. Controlled via a smartphone app, smart door locks allow you to grant specific people access to the house—such as family members and caregivers—without the use or need for a physical key.
In today’s on-the-go environment, people are increasingly turning to various types of electronics, devices, and smartphone apps to help them lead healthy and active lives. But these popular smart wearable devices aren’t just for the younger generation—seniors can get just as much use out of them (if not more). As the aging in place movement continues to gain momentum, wearable devices designed to foster healthy aging and independent living will soon become more and more commonplace in senior-headed homes. From smart watches and fitness trackers, to blood glucose monitors, cuffs that identify blood pressure trends, and biomedical sensors, there are several unobtrusive wearable devices that will alert both you and your caregiver to medical irregularities in real time. It’s all about staying informed, safe, and above all else—healthy.
Smart Video Doorbells
When the doorbell rings, it’s only natural to be a bit wary of who or what may be on the other side—especially if you’re home alone and not expecting anyone. But now, thanks to video doorbells, you can remotely screen anyone at your door with video surveillance, speakers, and microphones for additional home protection. In the event of any suspicious activity, you can view and record visitors at the door from your smartphone or tablet. And if it’s a guest, friend, or loved one at the door, you can communicate with them from anywhere inside your home to let them know that you’re available and on your way to welcome them inside.
Automatic Stove Shutoff Devices
Have you ever wondered if you remembered to turn the stove off? While it’s common and easy to do, it also has the potential to be extremely dangerous. That’s why smart stove shutoff devices are among the most useful smart tech items for aging seniors—especially those who like to cook. Smart stove shutoff devices come with motion sensors, a timer, and an automatic shutoff feature so your stove powers down for your safety and convenience, in the event you forget to turn it off yourself. Smart stove alarms also make kitchens safer by alerting you to potentially dangerous situations or potential fire hazards. The more kitchen safety measures you take, the better equipped you’ll be to keep safely cooking your favorite meals well into retirement years.
Smart Medicine Dispensers
As we age, we rely on our medications to keep us at our best. And one of the more worrisome issues surrounding aging in place independently is taking these medications at the appropriate times. The reality is that with a number of medicines that seniors have to try to remember to take throughout the day, the stakes are high. And forgetting or missing a dose or taking one at the wrong time could ultimately result in serious health complications. Now, thanks to smart, automated medication dispensers, you can ensure you are taking all medications on schedule and according to your doctors’ orders. These smart medicine dispensers not only remind you to take your pills, but also track when they are taken. What’s more, remote alerts can be sent to caregivers whenever you take medication from the dispenser.
With modern smart home technology at our fingertips, aging in place can be made safer and more enjoyable. After all, by equipping our homes with this technology today, we’re creating a space that we can live in for our tomorrows.
If you’re wondering how you can afford to make smart home upgrades throughout your home, tapping into home equity can be the smart solution. If you’re age 62 or older, a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage—also known as a reverse mortgage—lets you access a portion of the equity in your home to use as you wish. By eliminating monthly mortgage payments* and improving cash flow, you’ll be able to turn your smart home dreams into a reality.
* Real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, and property maintenance required.