As we get older, we start to think long and hard about how we want the rest of our lives to go, particularly where we want to call home.
For example, many people want to travel the world when they retire rather than stay in a permanent residence. Some want to transition to a great retirement community. Others want to age in place.
If you’re leaning toward the latter, you’re joining the masses. An AARP survey found that most elder adults want to stay in the homes and/or communities they live in as they get older.
However, many families are concerned for their older family members’ safety and functionality when they choose to age in place. Thankfully, technology, specifically smart tools and devices, is curbing these fears and making it easier for older adults to spend their golden years at home.
Keep reading for more on the draw of aging in place and where smart technology fits into enhancing the experience.
Many retirement homes and assisted living communities offer a flexible, engaging living experience that makes the later years of life some of the best you’ll ever have. However, living out your golden years at your home might be even better.
Often, people age in place in homes they’ve lived in for decades. They’ve built their life there and are comfortable with the living space. It’s where their heart is and dozens of years of memories lie. In addition, if they’re ever to develop memory issues or a more serious condition like Alzheimer’s, being in a familiar place that facilitates a regular routine could be a benefit.
Aside from being comfortable with the inside of their homes, older adults are also fond of the community they live in. This can be especially beneficial when it comes to socialization.
Unfortunately, seniors are at risk of social isolation for a variety of reasons, including retiring or having a physical disability. Those who aren’t isolated likely have strong ties within their community and other relationships. Remaining where they are as they age ensures that they still have access to the people they’ve grown close to over the years, facilitating consistent socialization.
Ultimately, aging in place offers a level of independence in one’s later years that isn’t present in other options like retirement homes. That said, families still have concerns about their elders aging in place.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, “Older adults are six times more likely to be treated at the emergency department as a result of a fall on flooring than younger people. Each year, on average, 1,800 deaths of older adults result from falls and 1.5 million ER-treated injuries.”
Look deeper into research on injuries and deaths of older adults resulting from a fall, and you’ll see that many of these accidents happen at home. That’s why so many families are hesitant to let their elders age in place, especially alone.
Also, it isn’t uncommon for seniors to be victims of home robberies. Despite these concerns, there’s a way for adults aging in place and their families to achieve peace of mind.
Despite the common misconception that older adults have a difficult time familiarizing themselves with technology, technology itself can be helpful for aging in place.
Smart home technologies, in particular, are a must for older adults aging in place. These are gadgets, devices, and appliances that you can control remotely with an internet connection.
Well, these technologies can make every day safer for an older adult. For example, many people deal with mobility issues as they age. Usually, they’d have to get up to turn the heat down or unplug a laptop. But a smart thermostat allows them to control the temperature in their home on their mobile phone and a smart power strip can turn off power to devices that aren’t in use.
Older adults aging in place can also use smart security systems to facilitate safety in and outside their homes. For example, they can set up a video doorbell to feel safer about who visits their home. They can also set up a surveillance system inside that automatically calls for help when it senses a fall or other emergency.
Finally, older adults can use voice assistants to manage their schedules and reminders, order groceries and prescriptions, play music, make phone calls, or conduct research.
Although it’s not the same as having a physical assistant, virtual assistants can still contribute to helping those aging in place maintain their independence and stay connected.
Part of the aging in place process includes deciding whether it’s best to integrate smart technology into your current home or move into a new one with those accommodations already established.
If it’s the latter and you’re a family member of the older adult who wants to move, your help is vital. You can help them flesh out what they want in their new home, what care services they’ll need access to, and what amenities they need in their new neighborhood. You can help them ready their finances, declutter, pack, and transport their belongings.
You’ll also have to decide which smart technologies to incorporate in their new home. If you can find homes that already have the smart tech your elder wants, great. If not, price out how much it will be to implement the smart technologies they need and find out what the setup process looks like.
It’ll take some time to create a smart home environment that supports aging in place. But it’s worth the effort if it means being able to live out your golden years in a place your heart and soul are connected to.
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website's content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra's expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.