Rather than downsizing and moving to a retirement centre, many older people prefer to remain in their own homes. There are many advantages, such as being in a familiar environment close to friends and family.
If you are one of these older people, your existing home may present new challenges as you age. Fortunately, high-tech home automation and motorisation are on the rise because of their convenience and safety.
To maintain your independence, it makes sense to take advantage of some of the latest technologies that make life easier - and safer.
Some devices designed to make life more convenient include:
- Programmable switches that automatically turn your stove off if it has been unattended for a set time. This helps to prevent kitchen fires that can lead to serious injuries - and costly damage to your home.
- Smart lights that can be controlled remotely with a smartphone or programmed to switch on and off at set times during the day or night or when you enter and leave a room.
- Light switches that respond to voice commands so that you won’t have to try to find them in the dark.
Home security is vital to all homeowners, and smart home security systems help you notice when things are not as they should be so that you can stay safe.
Using cameras and sensors in your smart system can allow you to unlock doors remotely for family or friends. It will notify you when unknown people are in your home and when it may not be safe to enter. It can also show photos or videos when someone rings the doorbell or notify you if you have inadvertently left your home without locking up.
Home cleaning and maintenance are chores that can pose health and safety hazards as you get older. It’s well worth investing in equipment such as automated vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers and other appliances that can be controlled from your smartphone.
Robot vacuums clean on their own, navigating through your living space with intelligent path planning, and can be controlled by an app on your phone – or even your voice. Most of the better models will also mop the floor.
Robot lawnmowers move around the lawn with the help of an invisible wire fence. While moving, the machine's sensors enable it to avoid obstacles. Robot lawnmowers are programmed to take off small clippings instead of long pieces of grass. The clippings fall to the soil at the grassroot level, where they decompose into natural fertiliser.
One of the problems with living independently is that you may be alone if you happen to have a medical emergency.
Quick and easy access to a medical alert system is essential for anyone living alone – at any age. Fortunately, most security firms that offer armed response services provide panic buttons for this purpose. Some also offer a service that entails sending emergency responders to wherever you are, guided by the GPS on your smartphone.
Smart medication dispensers are a boon for anyone who takes chronic medication or needs to take different types of medication at various times during the day. Some devices keep track of your medication-taking times. They can also send reminders to prevent you from accidentally missing a dose or taking double doses.
With fibre, wi-fi and Bluetooth now becoming standard, adapting your lifestyle to your capabilities is as easy as using a phone. With all the smart tools available, you should be able to safely stay on and enjoy your own home for as long as you want.
Writer: Sarah-Jane Meyer