For now, smart home technology is more likely to be used by younger people. However, it could have a very meaningful use for our aging parents and grandparents. There are basically no limits on how to use this technology. It comes to our creativity to set up and combine different devices to make lives more comfortable, safe, and fun.
Life expectancy is growing around the world as countries are getting more developed. The elderly population in the EU alone (people who are 65 or older) makes 19,2% out of all the population. After reaching the age of 65, the average life expectancy for females in the EU remains 21.2 years, and for males 17.9 years. Out of these years, on average 9.4 are expected to be healthy. (Eurostat, 2016) The golden years after that, can already bring up various health issues related to aging such as difficulty moving, hearing loss, forgetfulness, etc. Considering that 31.2% of the elderly live alone, smart home technology could be useful to keep them safer, make their lives more comfortable, and feel less lonely.
This article discusses 3 smart home products that can help to improve the safety of older people. Take a look and let me know what you think.
Smart Door Locks
Replacing the ordinary lock with a smart one can really make a difference. First of all, it decreases the risk of losing keys. Have you ever lost a key or forgotten it somewhere? Standing behind the door of your house and not being able to enter? Happened to me quite a few times that I forgot my key home, and a family member who had the other key was traveling in the other smart city. I had to spend all day in the coffee shop waiting to get into my home. This would not happen with a smart lock as the unlocking would be done by fingerprint, facial recognition, pin code, app, etc.
Moreover, it helps to significantly reduce the worries about forgetting to lock the door. Have you ever found yourself leaving the house in a hurry and later worried whether you even locked the door? Have you ever fallen asleep without locking the front door? Maybe not, but I am sure it happens from time to time to many of us. Smart locks can be set to lock the door automatically when nobody is at home. In addition, it is possible to check from the app whether the door is locked or not, as well as open and close it remotely.
While choosing the smart lock, make sure it fits the needs of its final users. There are many different options out there ranging from keypads with buttons or touch screens to fingerprints, facial recognition, etc. Some locks might be difficult to use for the elderly who are not very tech-savvy. Using an app to unlock the door might be quite a challenge for people who are not too comfortable with a smartphone. A fingerprint lock could be a great option, as it is more comfortable than the password lock and has less risk. The fingerprint cannot be forgotten or get leaked in the same way as passwords.
A smart doorbell is a great tool to improve safety and convenience in any home. These often come with a video camera that shows you who is behind the door. You can let in friends and family while keeping out strangers. Some doorbells even come with facial recognition. These can learn to recognize family, friends, and other usual visitors. In case a stranger doing some suspicious activity is detected, the smart doorbell can send you a notification or trigger an alarm. You can even find doorbells that warn you if some unwanted visitor such as an “annoying neighbor” is behind the door, so you can stay quiet and pretend not to be home.
You can choose a local or cloud-controlled video doorbell. With local control, you will not be able to see the video live online when you are away. However, your doorbell will be able to keep recording even if the internet connection is lost. Cloud-based doorbells such as Nest will allow you to see the video remotely through the cloud. On the other hand, if the internet connection is lost, you have no recording at all.
As this technology is still rapidly developing, make sure that the video quality is good enough to actually detect real persons and their faces. Various products out there offer different types of cameras, and processing speed. Check out the latest reviews online before installing this device to the door of the elderly. This way you can avoid numerous false alarms because of some passing birds, pets, and cars.
Motion and Contact Sensors
These devices can help to make the house safer in many different ways. If you are creative, you can find many uses for them. Combine your sensors with other devices to set up any routines and alerts that come to your mind.
First of all, motion sensors in different rooms could help to turn on smart lights automatically to avoid accidents while walking in the dark. You could place them next to the bed, into the bathroom, hallway, or any other place where you could benefit from automatic lights.
Secondly, you could place outdoor motion sensors outside of the house to detect any unusual activities. Motion in the garden at night can be set to send a notification or even trigger an alarm to scare the intruder away.
Thirdly, motion sensors in the kitchen or bathroom could send a notification if it does not detect any movement for a certain time. You could again give them a call or send somebody to check on them.
Contact sensors can be placed in different places to check on the daily routine of the elderly. For example, placing it in the medicine closet helps to make sure the person has taken the daily medicine. In case nobody used the medicine closet for some time, the smart home would send a notification. You could give them a call to check on the person if everything is ok.
These sensors are very useful also for making sure all windows and doors are closed. You can monitor sensors’ status (opened or closed) from the app and if you notice that something has been forgotten, you could give the person a call. Set up an alert if some window or door has been forgotten open for more than some specified time.
All the devices mentioned above can really make a difference for the house. They bring higher safety for the elderly and less worry to the people who care about them. You can also find more tips about home automation in our blog.