Maya Angelou wrote, “The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Whether you call it aging in place, independent living, or non-assisted living, most of us feel that ache for home and want to live in our own homes as we get older. This option is usually more affordable than moving into assisted living, and it’s less of an upheaval than moving to a new place. But with age-related physical and mental decline, you or your caregivers may doubt if aging in place is possible.
However, new technologies can help you stay in your own home longer. The booming senior population in the US has prompted many tech companies to focus on the senior market. They’re creating and improving technologies that can help seniors keep their independence and give their caregivers peace of mind. There’s even a word for assistive technology designed for seniors: gerotechnology. Here is some of the best technology to help seniors age in place.
Falls are a leading cause of death among people 65 and older, so wearable technology – like emergency alert pendants and fall detection devices – is invaluable for seniors. Some of the best features are in readily-available smartwatches, like the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch series 4 has fall detection and emergency call functions, so your watch can function like a medical alert device. The Apple Watch also has a built-in electrical heart rate sensor, that, combined with an app, can monitor your heartbeat and rhythm and display an ECG on the watch.
Other wearable telemonitoring equipment can remotely check heart activity, blood pressure, and glucose levels and report changes to your doctor. Even more ingenious devices are in development, like contact lenses that deliver eye medication or track glucose levels.
Medication Dispensers and Reminders
Caregivers often worry about seniors remembering to take their medications at the right time. Smart medication dispensers like MedaCube and Hero automatically dispense pills at pre-programmed times. The systems can handle different sizes of pills and can dispense up to four times a day.
Personal assistance devices like Alexa and Google Home can also be programmed to prompt you to take medications, remind you about doctor’s appointments, and assist in many other ways. Their voice activation capabilities are perfect for seniors who don’t want to fumble with screens and keypads.
Maintaining communication is vital for successful aging in place. Phone calls are convenient, but adding video has many benefits. Services like Skype and Apple FaceTime are available at little cost. One use for video communication is consulting with doctors. As mobility becomes limited, it can be much more convenient to teleconference with your doctor instead of traveling to the office for every visit.
Video communication also enhances social interaction. Aging in place can be isolating, so actually seeing friends’ and loved ones’ can help keep you in touch. Caregivers can also check in on seniors with a video chat and get a better idea of their surroundings and situations than they can with just an audio call.
Feeling safe at home is essential for successful aging in place. Home security systems are easier to use and more connected than ever before. Security systems can notify the homeowner and other contacts by cell phone in addition to contacting emergency services. False alarms are easier to deal with these days, too, with ways to quickly verify the false alarm and cancel the alert by mobile phone. Many home monitoring systems can work with add-ons like front door video cameras that let you know who’s ringing the doorbell without opening the door, power sensors that can tell you if you left an appliance on, and water sensors that can detect leaks.