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Aging in Place: How Technology Can Help Elders Stay at Home Longer and Safer

Smart Home Technology
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Let’s face it. Caring for our elders can be expensive, and more and more families are faced with the difficult decision of caring for mom or dad at home or placing them in a nursing home.

You’ve heard the stories such as people having to quit their jobs to stay home with their elderly parents because they can’t afford to put them in a nursing home. Or mom, dad, or a grandparent is failing to thrive because of the lack of interaction and engagement they receive in a nursing home facility versus being at home.

Cutting-edge technology, like that of Sphere AV, is changing the options while reinventing the whole idea of caring for our elders by utilizing a concept called Aging In Place.

Aging In Place, by definition, according to AgeInPlace.com “is a term used to describe a person living in the residence of their choice for as long as they are able, as they age.”  The implications are dramatic. Imagine your parents or grandparents being able to remain in their own homes safely while you monitor their movement, actions, and overall well-being.  What would that be worth to you?

Enter ‘Smart Home Technology.’ Smart technology such as home-monitoring sensors, voice activation, GPS, Bluetooth, cell phones, monitoring apps, and high-tech computers are what makes aging at home a possibility. Devices and apps can track things like medication use, walking or wandering, levels of activity, and falls. With Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), older family members can be monitored while at home or even away.

All of this leads to a term coined by Katy Fike of Aging 2.0 called “connected independence,” meaning the ability of adult children to have insight (through technology) into their parents or grandparents daily activities while allowing the aging individual to feel that they are independent. Significant improvement in health conditions have been achieved through the use of smart home technology to monitor and “steer” the lifestyle choices of aging family members.

The aging-in-place smart home technology industry is a $30 billion industry. Age technology or agetech is fast becoming the go-to answer for the heart-wrenching decision of placing a loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility versus allowing them to live out their lives in the comfort of their own homes.

But, what if your need for technology-assisted aging solutions could be answered with whole-home automation from one company? That’d be a game changer. Chris McDaniel of Sphere AV, is one entrepreneur who is answering the call for agetech services in a high-tech fashion.

“It’s much easier to start the automation process during the construction phase of a home; however, retrofitting an existing home with high-tech devices is one of our specialities,” said McDaniel.

Although it is ideal to install aging-in-place technologies at the start of construction of a smart home, it is often not the case in the real world. Most elderly people already occupy a home they have been living in for a number of years. The answer to this issue is to retrofit the home with modern technologies that make monitoring fast and efficient. 

Looking at the overall comfort and security of the elderly family member, McDaniel also states, “Watching your parent age and seeing your roles reverse (parent becomes childlike; child becomes the acting parent) is very difficult to handle. By providing real solutions to keep elderly parents and grandparents in their own homes at half the cost of a living in a nursing home, our company has seen firsthand the need and the appreciation for automated smart-home services.” Remote monitoring of a parent or grandparent’s house is of extreme benefit to the adult child, making it easy to check on mom or dad throughout the day and night.

For the person who is aging in place, automated lighting systems that light pathways throughout the home from activated sensors are important in cutting down on tripping and falls. The lights can be controlled via a remote or from an app on a phone. For those with mobility issues, this remote access feature offers an excellent alternative to having to get up and physically switch lights on or off.

Should an elderly family member fall in their home, Sphere AV has wearable devices that monitor noise and vibration and indicate possible fall situations. In addition, should the Alzheimer’s-affected client wander, the device is GPS trackable.

Automatic locks on doors can be helpful to movement-limited individuals who may have a difficult time getting to the front door. Some of the locks can even be programmed with fingerprint technology that allows either the aging homeowner or their relatives to enter the home with just a simple touch on an electronic pad.

Security systems can be activated in emergency situations, including medical emergencies, with the touch of a button on a remote or pad. Some systems can be voice activated.

The ability to turn off appliances through automation is another important reason to consider smart home technology. The elderly often forget to turn off appliances, so the devices can be programmed to automatically turn off after a certain period of time, avoiding dangerous situations like flooding and fires. Examples of appliances that can be automated include stoves, hair curling irons, clothes irons, water systems, cooking appliances like toasters and toaster ovens, hot plates, and others.

One issue seniors face is remembering to take the proper amount of medication at the proper time of day.  The solution … automatic medicine-dispensing machines that remind with audible beep messaging or visual lighting and dispense medicines at the appropriate times. Again, this adds to an aging family member’s independence and confidence in living alone.

Automated reminder systems also play a huge role in providing feelings of independence and security for seniors to live their normal lives.  Reminders can be set for appointments like going to the doctor, for events like birthdays or weddings, and for everyday tasks such as washing dishes, making the bed, or feeding their pets.

Another issue that has come about because of Coronavirus, but is being answered through technology, is the idea of doctor visits and home health visits through online telehealth practices. According to McKinsey & Company’s consumer sentiments research, 35% of home healthcare visits could become virtual visits, post-COVID. Homes can be outfitted with the appropriate computers and monitors to accommodate these technology needs.

The benefits of home automation include savings, safety, control, and peace of mind, not only for the aging parent or grandparent but also the adult child. “If you can dream it up, it can probably be done,” assured Chris McDaniel of SphereAV.  

What does your imagination hold when it comes to smart home technology and aging in place?

About SphereAV

Sphere Audio Video, Inc. in Birmingham, AL, strives to operate a productive and helpful business that focuses on offering specialized, cutting edge technology products and impeccable customer service.

We value customers as the foundation of our business, and aim for perfection with the installation and maintenance of all our products and services. Our dedication to service is matched with friendliness and promptness, making us the company of choice for all of your home technology needs.

Sphere Audio Video in Birmingham, AL provides expert home theater system design and installation, home automation, lighting control, security and surveillance system installation, media room design, boardroom design, and whole home distributed audio installation.

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