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? —
Dear Inquiring: There is 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.
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. You don’t have to like technology or be tech savvy to benefit from the many smart home automation devices that can help seniors age in place.
Smart home devices can give family 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 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 a smartphone, tablet or voice-enabled assistant to use them. Here are popular aging-in-place smart home products to help you get started:
Voice-enabled assistant: Popular products like the Amazon Echo (Amazon.com/echo), Google Assistant (Assistant.google.com) or Apple HomePod (Apple.com/home pod) 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.
Smart lights: Falls are common concerns among seniors, often caused by fumbling in a dark room looking for a light switch. Smart light bulbs like the Philips Hue (MeetHue.com) can turn on and off the 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 electric plugs like the Wemo Mini (Wemo.com) that offer remote control automation for lamps, fans or other devices.
Video doorbell: Safety is 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.
Home monitoring: The family 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 like TruSense (MyTruSense.com).
Other options: Some other helpful smart home products 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 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.”