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This is a complete guide for smart home technology for the elderly. I am writing this guide to help out others who might be researching this as I could not find a complete resource anywhere else on the internet.
But now due to how personal this issue has become for me in recent months, I find myself wanting to help others that are considering this.
My mom is now in her golden years but is also disabled. She recently had a bad fall and was stuck on the floor of her home for 3 hours in pain from a shattered hip. I had no idea she was there and neither did anyone else.
The worst part was, I was on vacation with my family at Disney World, over 1500 miles from home when this happened. My mom is now recovering, but in the days and months after this happened everyone kept saying “she needs a medical alert bracelet”.
Well, needless to say, as the author of a smart home blog, I felt that I could do more.
Why Smart Home Technology For The Elderly?
The innovation of smart technology in recent years has just shot through the roof. There are virtually hundreds of actual uses now for the everyday homeowner. Let alone someone who is actually in need of any device that will help them live more independently.
Smart home devices also offer a peace of mind for the caregiver that is of a much higher scale than that of just installing a medical alert bracelet and calling it a day. If you are researching this topic, then it really should be about the quality of life. Not about a virtual safety net.
What Is A Smart Home Anyway?
A Smart Home is one that is set up to provide its homeowners with comfort, security, efficiency and convenience at all times, regardless of whether anyone is home.
For example, you can set up smart cameras that will alert you if there is motion or you can set up a smart home thermostat which will allow you to monitor or change the temperature in your home when you are not there. But there are some many more uses for the elderly that we will dive into here.
What Are The Advantages To A Smart Home?
For the elderly, there are so many advantages that smart home products bring. I’m amazed that more people aren’t using them already. Again, I go back to discussing the quality of life.
Things are just not as easy as they used to be for the elderly. It seems that every day our bureaucracy makes it harder and harder for them. So, luckily smart home devices are changing that in some ways. There seems to be a huge misconception that these devices will make an older persons life harder because they involve technology.
While that may be true for some people at the onset if they are doing everything themselves, it’s the exception rather than the rule. If you are planning on setting everything up yourself and you are not technically savvy then yes, it will be harder at first.
I usually recommend that a younger person set this up initially anyway. It will take a lot of the headaches out of the equation. Some of the best advantages of using smart home devices are the following.
- Comfort – Set it and forget it thermostats that can be monitored and controlled by a family member (or yourself) when you are away from home.
- Entertainment – Smart TV’s were just the beginning. Now with the newer smart entertainment hubs and the addition of Firesticks and Alexa you can add on voice control for just about any of your home entertainment.
- Safety – With smart home security, you can monitor everything, from who’s at the door, to whether or not the oven was left on by accident. Heck, you can even check to make sure the door is locked at night without even getting out of bed!
Concerns From The Elderly About Smart Home
Obviously, there are several concerns that will come up if you are the child trying to help your elderly parents to implement this new technology.
- Cost – With the increase in telehealth services and their increasing cost, you will undoubtedly meet the cost factor right out of the gate. Yes, some devices can be a little over $100. But when you outweigh the cost of having a parent who has fallen and can’t get up or you are already paying an ungodly monthly service feed to a local care provider. I feel that both you and they will quickly see the value.
- Face To Face Care – Many elderly folks are concerned that these smart devices lack the face to face care that some elderly adults are used to having. I definitely get it, It’s always good to see a smiling face. However, I have read in several cases where elderly people actually preferred automated care over having a gossipy, or possibly even mean-tempered human come into their house.
- Privacy – As with any new technology, there are always privacy concerns, even for the most technically savvy of us, let alone the elderly. The biggest way to combat this is to read my article on the best ways to secure your smart home network and implement the tactics that I mention there. Including setting up a separate network for the smart devices, lockdown the passwords that you use and much, much more which I discuss over on that article.
Smart Devices For The Elderly
With the phenomenon of aging in place becoming more popular for the elderly. We find that there are things that can be done to assist them through the use of smart home technology. Smart Home technology aims to tackle the struggles that you might face staying in the home long term.
My mother is one of those people, she refuses to give up her freedom. She’s stubborn just like me and I’m sure you are in a similar situation if you are reading this. My hope is that I can direct you to some of the right products and help you better address yours and your loved one’s needs.
Smart Medical Care
There are many different reasons why you might be considering smart medical care options. It definitely will automate many tasks and make life much more worry-free. Here are my top recommendations and thoughts after having researched this topic extensively.
Smart Medical and Fall Alert Devices
In the process of looking into wearable medical alert devices, I have noticed a large number of these devices all have a hefty monthly fee like Philips Lifeline. If you decide to go this route, I strongly suggest that you research them all thoroughly. Personally, I cannot in good conscience recommend any of them.
There are quite a few manufacturers out there that all claim to be the best or have the most benefit. But at the end of the day, they are all the same. They are all out to make a buck and all of them charged my mom way more than what was promised. Renter Beware.
I have recently heard that if you contact your local area agency on aging that they have ways to make these more affordable. But otherwise, I just can’t recommend them at this time. If at any time in the future I find a reputable company I will make sure to update this guide. (By the way, if you represent said “reputable” company I am open to hearing what you have to say on the matter)
Update: I have recently been sent an Abode system to try out and have since hooked it up at my mom’s to see how she fairs with it. It’s been about a month and so far so good. The Abode starter kit comes with a key fob which can work as a medical alert device with a little bit of tinkering. Either way, I figured I would mention it here because of its pertinence to the topic.
Smart Pill Dispensers
I’m a middle-aged man and there are days that I forget to take my pills. So the benefit of using a connected pill dispenser is not beyond me. The Tricella Liif 7 Smart Pillbox can help with that. It can detect if you forgot to take your pills or took the wrong ones.
It can connect to smartphones and tablets too. This makes it simple for families to stay connected and ensure that pills are taken on time. The Tricella has LED notifications and smart sensors in each pill drawer. It tracks when you took your pills and reminds you when it’s time to take your pills.
If one of your concerns is dental health, then there is a great way to keep a close eye on what is going on. The Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected is a full-featured Bluetooth toothbrush. It takes the guesswork out of your oral care routine. It uses smart sensor technology which sends your brushing data to the free Sonicare app in real-time via Bluetooth wireless technology.
This will allow you to monitor exactly how good your oral hygiene is. It’s like having a dentist watching how you brush your teeth and tells you what you should be doing differently. If you are interested in reading more about this, you can find it over here on Amazon.
Smart EKG Monitors
AliveCor has pioneered the creation of mobile devices to enable proactive heart care. Their Kardia Mobile EKG monitor is recognized as the most clinically-validated mobile EKG solution on the market.
It captures a medical-grade EKG in 30 seconds flat. You can detect atrial fibrillation or normal heart rhythm right away. I like that you can also set up automatic emails to yourself, your doctor or anyone else you so choose with no subscription required. You can find that right over here on Amazon as well.
Smart wearable devices aren’t just for the younger crowd. In fact, I would say that seniors get as much use out of them if not more than their younger counterparts. Wearables that foster healthy aging and independent living will soon fill seniors’ closets. Below I’ve listed wearable smart devices that make sense for seniors. You’ll quickly see what I mean about their usefulness in general.
Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers
From their inception, they have always been generally used to track your steps, your heart rate, and many other features. There are many device manufacturers out there at this point and there are many different options for you to choose from. Just go to Amazon and type in “smartwatch” or “fitness tracker” and take a look at all of your options. Personally, I like the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro. Although, I don’t like how it nags me when I don’t wear it enough.
Blood Glucose Monitoring
The Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System is an all-in-one smart glucose meter. You can sync it with the Dario Smart Diabetes Management app to measure, record and track blood glucose levels. The app records carbs intake, insulin medication, and physical activity.
Smart Blood Pressure Cuff
For this, I highly recommend this Smart Blood Pressure Cuff made by Omron. You can track blood pressure trends right through the Bluetooth enabled monitor. If you would like to check out the current price you can find it over here on Amazon.
Everyone wants to be secure in their own home. As people get older this definitely can become a challenge. Some people might be concerned about protecting themselves from robberies or home invasions. While others might be considering the physical safety of the home, for example, the threat of fires. Yes, there are a lot of overpriced home security options out there that charge you a monthly fee. But I am going to try to stay away from those in this guide.
Smart Security Cameras
If you are concerned with what’s going on outside the home or inside the home. You should have smart security cameras set up. They are easy to set up and relatively easy to use and monitor. Although there are many options for smart home security cameras. Regular readers of mine know that I always recommend the Blink XT cameras which can be found here on Amazon. The reasons that I recommend them are…
- Easy to set up and use.
- Priced better than most other smart home cameras.
- Can be placed virtually anywhere.
- Their performance and quality are better than other cameras at the same price.
- The batteries last up to two years.
You can see my full review on the Blink XT cameras and how well they handle cold weather over here. Another thing I should add here is that if the home happens to be an apartment, then you may want to read my article called Best Security Camera For An Apartment as well.
Smart locks are something you should consider if you or your aging family member is concerned about door security. Also, if you are concerned that locks may need to be replaced in the home, then you may want to consider a smart deadbolt made by a reputable company.
Schlage has been around since 1920 and they know their stuff. I highly recommend their Z-wave technology smart locks. These locks are strongly built and come in any color to match the existing motif of the home. As far as smart locks they have been doing it longer than any other company. This is why I highly recommend them and you can actually find them and much more over on my page that discusses which smart locks are the best.
Smart Video Doorbell
Sometimes it may just be as simple as being able to see who is ringing your doorbell to know if you want to answer the door or take the time to get up and go to the door. Just lets you know if it’s worth the trip. That said, they do provide a great amount of security as well. There are a few companies that make these right now. But I tend to stick with the tried and true Ring Doorbells. One of the reasons is that, since not everyone actually rings the doorbell these have motion sensors built-in as well.
Smart Alarm System
When it comes to alarm systems there are a TON of companies out there that do this. But they also charge you a monthly fee so that you will have the security of knowing there is a company monitoring your security. While that is enticing I don’t care for monthly fees. What I do endorse however are the Samsung SmartThings Home Monitoring Kits. They literally come with everything you need to secure your smart home physically.
They allow you to control, automate and monitor your home from anywhere using the SmartThings app. You can get immediate alerts on your smartphone if it detects motion or forced entry. This might be the number one thing I recommend for home security.
Smart Smoke Alarms
Smart home smoke alarms have been around for a few years now and it appears that they are only getting smarter. However, the ones that I have installed (which are compatible with the Samsung SmartThings hub I mentioned above) are the First Alert 2-in-1 combination Smoke Detector & Carbon Monoxide Alarm. They have an integrated wireless alarm system and are capable of sending you mobile alerts and emails so you know exactly what is going on.
Better Living Smart Devices
This is more of a miscellaneous file of smart devices that can and should be used by the older community to not only make their lives easier, but safer as well.
Smart lighting not only makes their lives brighter but takes all of the work out of remembering to shut off the lights. It’s just one less thing to worry about. Lights can either be set to automatically turn off and on at certain times of the day or conveniently by voice if you are using either a Google Home or Amazon Echo. I have written a blog post about how to choose smart home lighting previously which can walk you through the process and help you pick out just the right lighting solution for the particular situation you are dealing with.
My wife bugged me for some time about getting smart thermostats for our home. I was so glad in the end that I did. It has made our lives so much more convenient. I can only imagine how much more convenient it is for an elderly person to be able to sit in their chair and change the temperature when they want.
It is also handy for them if they are in bed at night and want to turn the temperature up without getting out of bed to do so. On top of all that it definitely has made our heating bill go down.
I would say we saved approximately $200 inside of the first year alone. If you are looking for my recommended thermostat, then I would suggest reading about what I consider the best smart home thermostats you can buy right now.
Water and Leak Detection
I constantly worry about leaks and other aggravations that my mom might have to concern herself with living alone. Besides the fact that you have to know there is a problem in order to actually fix it. That’s why smart water and leak detection is important. Samsung SmartThings actually makes a water and leak detector that works with the same security system I mentioned previously.
You can place these anywhere that you might be concerned about a leak and the second it picks up on it you get an alert on your smartphone. You can also have it set off a siren or alarm if you wish. If you want to check out the current price on Amazon feel free to check them out over here.
The leading cause of fires in the home is stove fires. While smart ovens are coming soon to a home near you. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to make your current oven smarter. There are two items I feel that I can recommend here at this point. One of them is the Wallflower Smart Monitor for Electric Stoves.
Yes, it only works on electric stoves, but it does work well. This item warns you if the stove has been left on accidentally or has been turned on without you knowing. The nice thing is that there are no monthly fees as it uses an app to warn you. This is not an automatic shut off if the stove has been left on. It just reminds you that the stove has been left on.
The second product I can recommend here is the more expensive, but totally worth it IGuardStove. This device, when hooked up to your current stove has motion sensing to detect if you have left the kitchen area or when you have returned. It also has an automatic oven shut off timer which shuts the oven off after whatever time you have pre-set. It does have a manual override, that will disable the auto shut off timer for longer cooking, i.e. roasts or soups, etc.
Everyone forgets things once in a while, that’s why Reminder Rosie makes an alarm clock with automated reminders built right in. You can record up to 25 different personal reminders and hear them up to 100 feet away. It is voice-activated and can remind older folks of when to take their medications or any appointments they have for the day. You can even program it in any language.
Everyone wants to be entertained! Especially if you are living alone or aren’t able to get out of the house much. The problem with technology and entertainment is it is very tiring fumbling around with remotes and dealing with buttons that you can barely see.
Not only that but the programming costs from these telecom companies are getting WAY out of hand! Am I a cord cutter? Is that where I’m going with this? Your darn right! However, I understand there are certain circumstances where it isn’t possible for someone to get rid of their cable or satellite provider.
Most any TV you buy these days will have smart functions built into it. Meaning that you can access things like Netflix or Youtube directly through the TV. Sometimes this, by itself is enough to help someone cut the cord. But sometimes there is programming that they can’t get through the smart tv medium, and that may be a deal-breaker.
Smart Streaming Devices
There are many smart devices that you can currently get to make your dumb tv much smarter. There’s the Chromecast, the Roku, Apple TV others that are newer on the market. I personally like and recommend the Amazon Fire TV. It’s ease of use and very simple remote control make it extremely simple for the elderly to figure out and learn how to use. Including apps like Netflix and Hulu among many others.
You can add voice control to any TV by using an Amazon Echo and the Logitech Harmony Smart Control, which I recently reviewed over here. Below is a video that walks you through the process.
If you are looking for the Harmony Hub, you can find it over here on Amazon.
Smart Cleaning Devices
Now on to something that I am very passionate about. When it comes to elderly living I firmly believe that robotic cleaning devices are almost a necessity! They literally take 95% of the work out of the whole process.
No one of an older age wants to be pushing around a heavy vacuum cleaner. Personally, I hate vacuuming anyway, so I can only imagine I’ll completely deplore it the older I get. Robotic Vacuums like the Roomba take all the work out of this everyday chore. You can set it on a regular schedule and even monitor and schedule it from your smartphone. They go right back to their charging station when they are done and the only thing you have to do is empty the dustpan.
Personally, I have a Roomba and I couldn’t imagine life without it now. You can read my article about the best smart vacuum’s for more information on which ones I think are the best.
There are several other manufacturers that more recently have become serious and even more affordable competitors in the industry though. Namely Shark with their Ion Robotic Vacuum, which is priced very reasonably. There many out there on Amazon to check out. Just take a look at the reviews and find the one that’s right for you.
Smart robotic mops go right along with robotic vacuum cleaners. They sweep and mop hard floors including hardwood, tile, and stone.
Like their vacuuming counterpart, they are controlled and scheduled via an app on your smartphone. They get into all the hard to reach places like around the toilet. What I personally love is the way they really dig into dried on soda stains (I have a 7-year-old).
For this, I highly recommend the Irobot Braava Jet 240. It does very well on hardwood floors, tile, stone kitchen floors, and bathroom linoleum floors as well. If you want to check out the current pricing and reviews you can click this link to take you right to the product on Amazon.
Smart Home Systems For The Elderly
Now if all of this seems a bit too daunting or you just don’t feel that you have the time and energy to tackle it. I would strongly suggest hiring a company to handle it for you. I have read recently that HoneyCo is one of the up and coming companies that is providing a service like this, specifically for the elderly community.
Thank you for taking the time to read through my guide. I know the struggles of coping with aging after watching what my mother is going through. I sincerely hope that this helps you make decisions on what steps you will need to take in making an elderly lifestyle more comfortable, safe and seamless.
Aging is going to happen to all of us at some point, so I feel that it is our responsibility to take care of our elderly now with smart home automation. That way we can hopefully have even better innovation in place when we are elderly ourselves. If you are just learning about smart home technology you may also want to read my article titled 31 Smart Home Automation Tips.