Aging Gracefully: Smart Home Technology For Seniors

Monica Gray - November 20, 2023

With rapidly increasing technology, it might be hard for seniors to keep up. As we age, our mobility and eyesight are not as good as it was in our younger years. Operating technology and machinery, and remembering simple tasks might feel a bit more difficult. One solution to helping your aging loved ones is smart technology. Robotic vacuum cleaners, GPS tracking devices, and automatic pet feeders are a few of how we can help our seniors stay on top of their tasks, while also keeping an eye on their health and home safety.


Voice-Activated Assistants

Walking into your dark home late at night becomes much easier when you can simply ask Google Home to turn on the lights, eliminating the awkward fumbling for a light switch in pitch-black darkness. This convenience extends to the benefits of using voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home to control various aspects of the home, making it particularly advantageous for seniors with poor eyesight. Voice-activated assistants reduce the risk of navigating the house in the dark, providing a safer environment. Beyond the practicalities, these devices offer seniors a chance to gain independence and empowerment. Moreover, they assist with cognitive functioning and memory, fostering social connection. Seniors can set reminders for tasks such as taking medicine, checking the mail, watering plants, or any other activities that might slip their mind. (Video Strong).


Smart Medication Dispensers

With technology nowadays, smart medication dispensers help seniors manage their medications by providing reminders and dispensing doses as needed. Because medication is a daily ritual for seniors, they must remember to take their medicine, whether that be with their meals or before bed. According to Hero Health, “89% of seniors over 65 are on at least one prescription medication, with 54% taking more than four. The importance of keeping track and taking medication at the prescribed time cannot be overstated.” With smart medication dispensers, you’ll get features like audible alarms, online portal access, and flashing light notifications to help with medication (Hero Health).


Wearable Health Monitors

As we age, it’s only normal for our health to deteriorate, no matter how in shape we are. That’s why seniors need to stay on top of their health, especially if they live alone. Smart wearables track vital signs and send alerts to paramedics in case of irregularities. Some health monitors have automatic fall detection, metrics to monitor health, an SOS button, and a large, easy-to-see screen to make it easier on the eyes. The Apple watch also has automatic fall detection, which is an incredible feature for seniors living on their own at home (Safe Wise).


Motion-Activated Lighting

Walking into a dark room and stumbling around, looking for the light switch is dangerous at any age. But when a senior living around tries to find the light, it could be even more dangerous. Motion-sensor lights enhance safety and convenience, especially at night. These are ideal for preventing falls and work by turning on the moment they detect motion. It helps visually impaired people see things clearer, helps seniors see when they get up at night to use the toilet, and can help them see inside a dark wardrobe or closet (Tech Silver).


Video Doorbells

Many people feel nervous or scared when they hear their doorbell ring when they’re not expecting visitors. That’s where video doorbells come in. They’re handy devices for seniors that allow them to see and communicate with visitors remotely, improving security and home safety. There are all sorts of doorbells you can use, from Wi-Fi-enabled to plug-in battery-operated systems. With other doorbells, seniors can reply with pre-recorded messages, while others will let out a loud deterring sound, scaring away unwanted visitors (Age Space).


Smart Thermostats

Constantly adjusting the thermostat can not only eat away at your heating and cooling bill but can be frustrating to deal with and make your home feel uncomfortably hot or cold. Programmable thermostats that maintain a comfortable temperature with minimal manual adjustments. This also helps seniors who are visually impaired or forgetful. These swap between heating and cooling on their own. You can even hook some thermostats up to an app on your phone. This is a great option for seniors with kids that can help them control their home temperature from afar, especially if they have trouble operating a phone (Reddit).


Emergency Alert Systems

In case of a fall or slowed heartbeat, many wearable devices will connect seniors to emergency services and send medical help within 60-90 seconds of no response. They can wear these devices as wristbands, as we’ve seen with the Apple watch or pendants. Other devices send help with the press of a button, for example, if a senior falls and cannot get up without help. It’s a large button they can press at any time of day. SureSafe Alarms have GPS and automatic fall detection. Seniors can wear a device called WellBe in the shower which has GPS tracking, and Aloe Care Health has a call button within a 200-foot range (PC Mag).


Smart Locks

It might be difficult for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s, or simply with memory problems, to remember to lock their door. To ensure the safety of your loved one, smart locks with keyless entry and remote control can make home access easier for seniors. Many people with Alzheimer’s may wander, because they believe they need to do something and end up walking away. This is dangerous especially in wintertime, with freezing temperatures and icy conditions outside. Smart locks are easy to manage on your phone, where you’ll receive a notification when someone enters the home. If your loved one is a senior, you can hook this up to your phone to keep an eye on them. If your loved one leaves your home base, you’ll also get an alarm on your phone, alerting you right away. Nowadays, they also make GPS trackers for seniors that can discreetly be placed inside their shoes (Love to Know).


Remote Monitoring Cameras

Concerned about the safety of your loved ones? Utilizing a remote monitoring camera allows you to keep a watchful eye on them, receiving notifications for entries and exits from their home and providing the ability to periodically check on them to ensure they haven’t encountered any issues. This peace of mind is particularly valuable when you’re not in the same neighborhood. If your loved one has a caretaker, installing such a camera enables you to monitor their treatment. A Reddit user shared a practical example of combining an Apple Watch with a camera to safeguard his grandma with dementia. By strapping an Apple Watch with fall detection and emergency alerts, and enabling location sharing, he could easily locate her during outings. Adding IKEA ZigBee shortcut buttons in potential fall-risk areas allowed his grandma to send an alert if needed. This innovative solution offers a straightforward way to enhance the safety of seniors. (Reddit).

The Wire Cutter

GPS Tracking Devices

To prioritize the safety and well-being of seniors, consider openly discussing the option of using GPS trackers in their shoes. Engage in a conversation about the benefits, emphasizing features such as location monitoring, two-way voice communication, fall detection, and the ability to set safe zones. Seek their consent and input on this safety measure, ensuring they feel empowered and involved in the decision-making process. This collaborative approach fosters transparency and trust, creating a positive environment where seniors actively participate in enhancing their own safety and providing peace of mind for both them and their caregivers. (Age Space).


Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

Robotic vacuums keep homes clean with minimal effort. Many robot vacuums clean your home with voice activation. This makes it easier for seniors to give their robot vacuums commands, without having to touch technology. This eliminates the stress of adopting new gadgets and having to figure out how to use them. The self-emptying vacuums also relieve the physical burden that comes with vacuuming and is especially beneficial for seniors with joint pain, mobility issues, and arthritis. The self-emptying vacuums can refill the water tank, blow dry the mopping pads, and empty the dustbin without any human interference (Eco Vacs).

One Medical

Telehealth Services

Seniors can access healthcare remotely through video consultations and health monitoring, without having to leave the comfort of their own home. This reduces their need to get into a car and drive somewhere, or figure out transportation. Without that added stress, they can consult a medical professional to determine the next best option, depending on their condition. It’s very helpful for seniors living in rural or remote locations. Reports of blood pressure and heart rate can be sent to a medical professional if they have a wearable health monitor, saving them a trip to the doctor’s office. The only trouble with telehealth services is internet issues, lack of experience with technology, and cognitive or hearing issues that make operating technology difficult (The Access Group).


Adaptive Voice-Controlled Appliances

For seniors who have trouble with eyesight or operating technology, voice-controlled appliances can make their lives a lot easier. Ovens and microwaves can be operated via voice commands. All they have to do is ask the appliance to turn on to a certain temperature, place their food inside, and wait until it cooks their food. This takes away the hassle of having to operate small numbers and dials that may confuse them or be hard to see. Knob turners for seniors, as well as double-handed saucepans, and appliances with large screens also make senior living much easier (Which).

The Senior List

Fall Detection Systems

Certain pieces of technology, like wearable health monitors, cameras, and pendants, detect falls and alert caregivers or medical professionals. These fall detection systems are especially handy for seniors who fall and are unconscious. Lying on the floor for a while can lead to bruising or freezing, especially during the colder winter months. According to Personal Alarms, seniors only have to be mobile between half an hour to an hour for muscle cells to start breaking down, as well as dehydration and hypothermia. When the pendant detects a change in air pressure, speed of movement of the pendant, and impact when hitting the floor, it’ll trigger the SOS system (Personal Alarms).

Good Housekeeping

Smart Furniture and Beds

Explore adjustable furniture and beds with smart features for added comfort and convenience. Technology today ensures drawers glide easily and effortlessly for seniors to prioritize their ease and make accessing their drawers much easier. Sofa beds are easily adjustable for seniors helping improve their sleep and making it easy to climb in and out of bed. Nowadays, beds exist that have sleep tracking, under-bed lighting, head and foot elevation, and a lie-flat option. Some users of these beds admit, “Being able to adjust [the head of the bed] was a big help in controlling my coughing due to acid reflux,” which is something that many seniors suffer from. Seniors need more rest than young adults, which is why it’s important to buy furniture for their needs (Good Housekeeping).


Smart Washer And Dryer

For seniors to be able to better track their washing and drying cycles, as well as monitor their energy use and clogged ducts, they can use a smart washer and dryer. This is ideal for seniors who live alone or are visually impaired. It’s already tough to remember when to change the lint sheet or check if the drain is clogged. Poorly maintained drains cause nearly 15,000 home fires every year. To keep seniors safe, smart appliances keep track of maintenance and make their lives just a little bit more manageable (Which).


Pet Feeder

Studies have proven that pets are beneficial for healthy aging. They help seniors feel less lonely, and besides, who doesn’t love having cute dogs and cats running around your home? Seniors have something to take care of, reduce their stress levels, and give them a sense of purpose. That’s where smart feeders come in, which helps distribute food and water for pets with elderly owners. This lessens the stress of having to remember to feed their pets. It keeps them on a consistent feeding and drinking schedule. They can also receive phone alerts when their pets receive food and water (Reddit).


Garage Door Controller

With Wi-Fi nowadays, it makes everything much easier. It allows seniors to open and close their garage doors whether they’re home or away. This is especially handy for seniors suffering from memory problems or ones that are simply forgetful. If they forget to close their garage door while away or on a trip, and suddenly remember, they can use their phone to close it. It’s dangerous to leave a garage door open since it opens your home up to thieves or wild animals (CNN).


Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Residing in a home with malfunctioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors poses a significant risk. Smart detectors, however, offer a safer alternative by sensing environmental dangers and sending timely alerts directly to your smartphone. Through specific apps, these detectors utilize loud beeps, distinctive colors, and smartphone notifications to promptly inform you of any potential leaks in the area. This advanced technology not only enhances the safety of your living space but also provides clear and immediate communication about potential hazards, allowing for swift and informed action. (The Spruce).


Leak Detector

Detecting a leaky pipe in a senior’s home is crucial to preventing major issues and property damage that can result in burst pipes, potential injuries, or an increased water bill. Smart leak detectors provide an effective solution by identifying issues such as running toilets, outdoor hose leaks, faucet malfunctions, and problems with water heaters. These devices are adept at catching easy-to-miss leaks that, if left unattended, can lead to irreversible damage. Investing in smart leak detection technology not only safeguards the home but also offers peace of mind to seniors by proactively addressing potential plumbing problems before they escalate. (Reddit).


Filter Monitor

Maintaining clean air filters is crucial for good indoor air quality, as faulty or unclean filters can lead to poor air circulation, higher energy bills, and potential issues with heating and cooling systems. Smart air filters offer a solution by sending timely alerts to seniors’ phones when filters need replacement or are becoming clogged. This proactive notification system not only ensures cleaner air but also helps prevent potential system failures, keeping the home environment safe and comfortable for seniors. Regular monitoring and timely filter changes contribute to a healthier living space and can alleviate concerns about air quality-related issues. (Mann Hummel).