Smart Home technology is not just for the futurists amongst us. There are benefits that smart technology can unleash for the elderly as well. In fact, in the UK with an ageing population smart homes for the elderly is one area where demand is growing fast.
In the UK, our society is much more work oriented than it is family. Sadly this has led to a situation where older people often don’t get the family support that is common in European countries. Instead, they find themselves expected to cope in a world that is really not that friendly to older people. Much of the effort of social services these days goes towards supporting the elderly in maintaining their independence, as it has been demonstrated that there are links between autonomy, familiarity of surroundings and good mental health.
Smart technology can help. In this article we look at a number of examples where smart technology can add tangible benefits and even bring people closer together. It’s worth noting that there are grants available from local government to help fund technology that can be shown to be helpful.
Safety with Smart Technology
It is important for people to feel safe in their homes and one of the best ways of achieving this is to install a smart doorbell. Video doorbells equipped with motion sensors alert anyone in the house that there is someone in the doorway, even before they ring the bell. Knowing who is at the door is a real boon for an old person, if they don’t recognise the caller they can ask for ID to be shown via the camera. Chime from Control 4 is one example of a system that is fully integrated into a Smart Home.
Older people are much more prone to falling than the young and spritely. A Personal Alarm is worn on the wrist like a watch and can be triggered by a fall. Typically it sends an alert to a call centre who will first ring the house and if they get no response, call a relative or even an ambulance for help. There are systems linked into the internet that act as a two way intercom. The person who has fallen can call out to say “”Don’t worry, I tripped but I’m just gathering my breath”. Or in a more dangerous case “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. Generally these systems are affordable. Costs are in the region of a few hundred pounds for the equipment and a subscription for the call centre.
Some local authorities operate community based schemes where they supply the call desk and equipment. This will be cheaper than going through a private provider and there are grants available in some areas to subsidise the costs of technology.
Iff somebody does become incapacitated inside the house, then the emergency services will need to get in. The most basic solution to this problem is a good old fashioned keysafe, somewhere out of sight but accessible.
A more sophisticated solution is a smart lock. These systems, available from Yale and linked to a Smart Home solution such as Control 4 allow the door to be unlocked remotely by an authorised user or by a voice command issued to the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant app on a mobile phone. Slightly less sophisticated versions allow the door to be unlocked with a fob or via a touch sensitive keypad. These devices can be a real benefit to the elderly, especially those prone to losing keys.
Living Better with Smart Technology
Lighting is a particular bugbear for the elderly. Leaving them on is expensive and getting up from a comfortable armchair to go to the light switch when you suffer from Arthritis is more than awkward, its painful.
These days smart lights can be activated by voice or motion, or from a Control 4 Remote Control or App. Never come back to a dark and uninviting house, and when its bed time, a single voice command can shut down the entire house. A Smart Lighting System can really improve the quality of life for a elderly person and the voice activated systems are perfect for those who struggle with technology.
Entertainment & Living Well
Nutrition & Health
Apps for the mobile phone abound for all levels of nutritional interest. Our article on Smart Home Kitchen Technology mentions a few devices that come with the ability to search for recipes. Smart devices can monitor your fridge and even order food. Apps such as Nutrients, MyFitnessPal, and Apple Health used in combination can monitor your calories, assess your exercise and record your food diary. The first two apps have huge food databases allowing you to count calories painlessly. Apple Health will monitor your heart, estimate your steps per day and even assess your sleep patterns. It’s never been so easy to stay healthy.
Music and Video
A voice connected Smart TV will find you an exercise class on YouTube or a Yoga session. If you’re feeling exhausted or fractious, meditation with Headspace. Getting away from health and exercise, a good film can do wonders for us all, old and young!
We’re often made aware of the downside of social media, but live video chats are a godsend for the elderly. Loneliness is the biggest contributor to depression and more serious mental illness in senior citizens. While many put on a brave face, a chat with a live video link can raise spirits and create a connection to fill that void. Apps such as Zoom have made video calls almost foolproof these days and most smart phones have the ability to make video calls.
Smart Homes for the Elderly
Smart technology for the elderly can be as simple as an app. It can scale to include Smart lighting and connected devices. Fitness and Nutrition apps on their own can help address some of the underlying stresses on older bodies and minds. In the bigger picture, smart homes for an ageing population could save the NHS millions of pound per year.
We are certified Control 4 Smart Home installers and with our 20 years experience of home security and alarm systems can help you integrate your safety and protection systems with other devices in the household. There’s no need for anyone to feel unconnected these days and smart home technology is there for the elderly as well as the young.
If you’re interested in Smart Home Technology, download our brochure here.