Elderly couple holding remote home control system on a digital tablet.

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Smart-Home Technology for Aging in Place

Help clients stay in their homes longer by showing them the safety, security, and conveniences that smart-home devices offer.

August 6, 2019

By the year 2035, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under 18 for the first time in history. We have extended our lifespans, but with that comes new challenges. Living longer means extended health and safety concerns, such as keeping track of medications, maneuvering stairs or the kitchen without injury, and keeping connected to family, caregivers, and friends. It all piles up quickly. And, no one wants to feel like a burden on their family or leave their home sooner than necessary.

Luckily, with our extended lives also comes new technology to help us stay independent longer. One of the ways we can do this is by creating a smart home—an essential topic real estate practitioners must know in order to advise their clients.

What is a Smart Home?

The term “smart home” may connote images of a young, wealthy, techy person’s house, filled with gadgets that are generally outside of the everyday person’s reach. However, that stereotype is far from the norm.

In short, a smart home is a dwelling that is equipped electronic devices that can control the use of utilities and appliances via voice activation or a mobile app. And there’s good news—smart-home technologies are becoming more accessible every day.

How Do You Establish a Smart Home?

There are three main things needed to turn a home into a smart home:

  1. High-speed internet. Making sure you or your client has a high-speed internet connection in place is the first action to take in creating a smart home. Most devices work with a Wi-Fi connection to communicate with the homeowner, the internet, and other devices.
  2. A smart alarm system. The purpose of creating a smart home is to create a caring home as well. Systems such as Adobe door sensors can give peace of mind to both homeowners and caregivers since they can be monitored remotely. Z-Wave compatible sensors can be installed on doors and windows to warn of any intrusions and trigger an alarm that notifies the authorities as well as caregivers if a problem occurs.
  3. A voice assistant. Think of it like the computer on “Star Trek.” Say the command and the device will make it so. The most well-known of these are Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Both can control compatible devices through a smart speaker hub, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home. Then, it’s really about programming actions. Upon waking up, a homeowner can find the lights turned on, coffee brewing, and news playing on the television. Alexa can also be accessed on the Amazon Echo Show, which includes a screen for monitoring smart-home devices and making video calls. Family members can video chat to check up on a loved one. This is great for homeowners who suffer from memory loss, get confused, or lose track of their phone, because the Echo Show is stationary.

What Other Smart-Home Options Are Available?

When it comes to creating a smart home, the sky’s the limit. All devices can be tailored to make a homeowner’s specific life easier and keep them independent at home for longer.

For instance, if a person finds that housecleaning and vacuuming are becoming too much of a physical strain, they might consider purchasing a Roomba automatic vacuum cleaner. It makes circuits around the house before returning to its charging port, completely independent and with no effort from the owner.

Smart thermostats such as the Nest Learning Thermostat can also be installed for added comfort and energy savings. The Nest learns a homeowner’s schedule and then is able to automatically raise and lower the temperature of the home depending on needs. It also can link to both Alexa- and Google Assistant–enabled devices. Turning on the air conditioning just became as easy as saying, “Alexa! Lower the temperature two degrees.”

Lighting control has come a long way since the Clapper was invented in 1985. Now lights can be controlled via your voice assistant either by replacing the switch at the wall (recommended) or by replacing individual bulbs.

The Sense energy monitor gives caregivers an unintrusive way to remotely check and see what devices are being used in real time. It can learn routines and detect abnormalities such as an oven that has been left on.

Establishing a home as a smart home can make the coming years so much easier for homeowners who plan to stay for the long term. And, once it’s all installed, using a smart home is as simple as saying, “Alexa, good morning.”

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