As the number of people aged 65 and over is growing faster than all other age groups around the world, it can create significant problems for families. It can sometimes prove difficult to safeguard the welfare of elderly loved ones without encroaching on their feelings of independence. While setting a cooker timer or changing the thermostat may not seem like a huge task, it can be a significant and sometimes dangerous obstacle for an elderly person. But while care homes offer one option, they aren’t suitable for everyone. Many people don’t want to leave their homes, while family members would prefer their elderly relatives to be able to remain comfortable and settled where they are. Smart home tech has been quick to respond.
Elderly Care And Smart Tech
Smart tech and elderly care is a rapidly growing market. In the UK alone, nearly a quarter of households now own at least one smart home device, while one in ten has at least two, according to YouGov data. Meanwhile, the percentage of the population in the UK aged over 65 is growing each year. In 2016, there were around 11.8 million people aged over 65. Some 25 years earlier, there were around 9.1 million. As our healthcare services continue to improve, this trend is only expected to continue in the coming decades.
Smart Homes Versus Care Homes
As the senior population expands, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the latest in smart home technology could offer a case for smart home technologies to pave the way for independent living and remote care monitoring. While there is naturally a limitation to smart home devices, they can provide added safety and peace of mind to individuals, their families and care providers. There are now apps that can tell you if your elderly parent has their kettle on or not and what room in the house they are using. The NHS has even announced that is partnering with Amazon to get Alexa automatically searching the NHS website when people ask for advice on health-related matters.
Smart Home Devices
In the last few years, technology firms have developed a range of smart home tech solutions that can help older people maintain their independence for longer. These easy to use gadgets can control your boiler, speakers and home temperature, turn the lights on or off, monitor the front door or play some music. These smart devices connect to a tablet or smartphone via a hub and allow people to control them with simple on-screen or voice commands.
The over 65s have become a crucial market for smart home tech. As more older people continue to live at home as they receive care and support, devices such as Google Home and the Alexa app and Apple Home app enable older people to enjoy more independence. Google Home, for instance, can automate things around the home and integrate with other technologies such as Google Maps and Google Calendar, enabling even those with limited vision or mobility to benefit from the technology. It’s recently upgraded menu also offers a more streamlined way of accessing the device’s key settings and features.
Enhanced Home Safety
The concept of smart homes is becoming an accepted reality, but it’s not simply focused on convenience and accessibility. Safety is one of the key benefits of having a smarter home for many older people. Some of the most popular smart devices used to enhance safety include home alarms, security cameras, video doorbells and motion sensors. There is now the potential to harness assistive care solutions with the latest generation of assistive home technology that can respond to emergencies such as a fire or gas leak while also offering more simple enhancements to people’s lives such as medication dispensers.
Improve Social Contact
A loss of friends and family and reduced mobility and income can result in older people becoming susceptible to loneliness and isolation. Technology can play a role in helping in-home care agencies, relatives and the individuals themselves reduce social isolation. The use of WiFi and networked hubs increases the contact a person can have with their friends and family and provide access to online services and activities that can enhance their wellbeing. This smart technology can also make communication between individuals, care providers and family members more efficient by using apps for reporting and sharing information.
Today’s technology is moving fast. New devices are launched every week that work smart and offer the potential of enhancing the quality of life of seniors, whether they remain in their own home or move to supported living.