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A Quick Look at Some Trends: “Aging in Place” Hi-Tech Tools

| Owen Barclay |

Millions of people are making the decision to Age in Place, according to AARP, an influential senior retirement group. They say that more than 3 out of 4 Americans age 50 or older want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. And that number grows to 90% by the time people become 65. Given that well over 10,000 people reach that milestone every day, we’re talking about a rapidly expanding senior product marketplace that has product and services providers paying close attention.

We’re talking about a global marketplace of around 15 trillion dollars a year. So it’s not surprising that lots of blue-chip electronics and tech companies know an opportunity when they see it. For example, one of the largest home tech firms, Best Buy, is pushing in-home senior technology as a primary driver of its business growth. Recently the company bought a big home care company and has plans to install health monitoring devices in at least 5 million “aging in place” homes over the next few years.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a shortlist of some newly emerging product technologies that are being driven by this Aging in Place marketing explosion.

Know Who’s at the Door! The Video/Smart Doorbell lets you monitor your front door from the kitchen table, tv room or anywhere you happen to be with your smartphone. You can see who’s at the door, speak to them through your phone app, and even record a video of them. And no need to leave the couch; some models unlock the door remotely once you’ve established the identity of the visitor. These devices are terrific for mobility-challenged seniors, but serve the entire aging in place community as well. Lots of companies offer these products; Nest, Simplisafe, and Ring are just a few of the available brands on the market.

Want to Boost Home Security? You can add both inside and outside cameras as part of an overall security protocol. These hi-tech products now feature infrared capability for night vision. They can also zoom and pan across your property as well as broadcast video to your smartphone no matter your location. Placing security cameras inside the home not only adds extra security but enables family members and relatives to keep an eye on aging in placers and facilitate in-home communication. Most devices also feature motion and sound sensors for extra protection.

Use Hi-Tech to Stay in Touch. Lots of people use computers and tablets to maintain contact with friends and family. But for those who have difficulty navigating these devices, companies like “Grandcare” offer a simple interface-based system that lets users perform a host of different tasks from one screen. Tech-challenged seniors can send and receive text messages and emails, post and share photos and videos and use these devices as communications centers for medical alerts, and phone calls. There’s often a small setup fee and monthly maintenance charges. Still, this powerful technology can be well worth the expense if they help connect seniors to their surrounding community of friends and family.

Strap on some Wearable Tech. These are devices that can monitor and track your movements and report on some basic health metrics, like heart rate, etc. Today’s smartwatches, for example, can collect a whole catalog of health info, including heart rate and fitness activity. And newer models can act as fall monitors automatically alert 911 or family members as soon as an accident occurs. And wait, there’s still more; some wearable monitors allow transmission of information to your health care provider. This serves as a lookout for any irregularities in your health status and can trigger a warning when an acute health episode occurs.

Home Health Care Technologies. Coupled with these powerful home health care monitors are the expanding use of video health care consultations. Again, a great solution for aging in placers who have mobility challenges and can’t easily make it to a doctor’s office. But it’s also an especially valuable approach for minor illnesses or medical consultations that don’t require a hands-on diagnosis.

Another excellent tech gadget is a pill reminder that alerts and meters out pills to seniors who often live with complicated drug regimens. And these pill reminders can also double as a calendar, or event and task reminders, Finally, let’s not forget Siri/ Alexa and “Hey Google.” It would be remiss of us not mention the ubiquitous and handy home devices offered by Apple, Amazon, and Google, respectively. Each year, these incredible voice-activated smart home tools get less expensive and more powerful. They can now play music, read audiobooks, send messages, make phone calls, provide weather forecasts, adjust thermostats, turn appliances and lights on and off…whoo, we’re breathless. Check them out, but be aware: some experts have raised privacy concerns regarding their use, so you need to decide how much intrusiveness you can tolerate.

This is just a small sample of the products now available to help you age in place comfortably and safely. Robot vacuum cleaners and floor washers, smart faucets, and smart appliances are a few more techy tools to think about. As Aging in Place specialists, we love to talk about this stuff. So please reach out to us by phone at 604-259-9774 or email us at [email protected]. We welcome your comments and, of course, always stand ready to answer any question you have. Thanks for reading our blog post.