Seniors: Smarter living for older adults

One of the major life transitions characteristic of aging is leaving one’s home to move into a retirement residence.

Given a choice, many of us want to live in our own home. A smart home is the solution for such people.

This is the age of Smart machines such as smart phones, smart television, smart home theatre, smart home audio, smart refrigerator, smart home lighting and so on. How about having an entire smart home? Are you ready for it? Looks like Smart home technology is here to stay.

What is Smart Home technology? In simple words, it involves connecting all devices in your home to the internet so that you are able to control them, communicate with them, and they are able to follow your commands remotely.

SMART home technology uses devices connected to the Internet of things (IoT) to automate and monitor in-home systems.

Users can remotely control connected home systems from anywhere.

This permits more efficient use of energy and electricity, ensures home security, and makes independent living comfortable.

Most importantly this technology can help us stay in our own home as we age.

Smart Door locks and security systems protect your home and allow your family to monitor entrance to your home. With the smart lock you will be able to lock your door, even you are away from home.

Smart doorbells usually come with video surveillance, speakers and microphones to enhance home protection.

You can communicate with visitors from anywhere in your home and let them know you are on your way.

If you are hearing-impaired, you can set up vibration alerts on your smart phone to alert you when someone is at your door. It would also enable you to view visitors at your door from your smartphone or tablet.

Imagine you are heading out of the door, and you cannot find your keys. The key finder helps you locate your keys and other articles that you misplace, such as your wallet, using your smartphone or tablet.

By having motion sensor lighting installed on the outside of your home you will have no difficulty when coming home after dark.

This also is an excellent deterrent to keep intruders from trying to break in.

If you have motion sensor lighting inside your home, you will not have to fumble for the light switches when you get up in the middle of the night.

Alternatively, with a smart light switch, you can control the lights in your home using timers or voice command via your smart phone. This device also helps you cut energy costs while ensuring your safety and home security.

A Wi-Fi enabled smart refrigerator enables you to view the inside of your refrigerator via an app on your smart phone, from any location. Better still, your smart refrigerator can keep track of your grocery list and deliver it to a grocery store near you for easy pickup.

Imagine you are in the shower and you are suddenly wondering whether you remembered to turn off the stove.

Automatic stove turn-off devices could be your solution. These devices come with a timer, motion sensors and an automatic shut-off feature to ensure that stove shuts down, according to your chosen time limit.

Some older adults have difficulty remembering to take medications on time.

An Automatic medication dispenser ensures that all your medications are taken on schedule, by alerting you or your family of missed medications. It can also provide your physician with a complete report of your medication activity.

Smart Thermostat learns from your behaviours and gives you remote access through your smartphone or smart home assistant. You can also pre-program your thermostat for the times when the indoor or outdoor temperature varies.

Health monitoring system helps track our health and safety, and is particularly beneficial for older adults living alone.

Remote health monitoring is a non-invasive, cost effective method to receive healthcare services from the comfort of your home.

Wearable health monitoring sensors communicate your health data directly to your physician in real-time.

They can be worn in a variety of accessories to track heart health, exercise, activity, other health conditions, detect falls and alert your family or physician.

Finally, by having a Smart Home Hub that connects to all your smart devices you can control the thermostat, entertainment system, light switches, music, and television through a single central unit.

Making your home completely automated as described above would not work for everyone’s budget. Even having a couple or more of these smart devices, costing a few hundreds of dollars can help you live independently and safely in your own home for a long period of time.

Padmaja Genesh, who holds a bachelor degree in medicine and surgery as well as a bachelor degree in Gerontology, has spent several years teaching and working with health care agencies. A past resident of Red Deer, and a past board member of Red Deer Golden Circle, she is now a Learning Specialist at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary. Please send your comments to

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