Home automation and the elderly population may not seem like a perfect pair, but it’s quite the opposite. Home automation devices are a perfect fit for our elderly peers, especially as their health declines.
A member of the Protect America marketing team recently looked after one of their grandparents for a three-year period in lieu of moving them into a retirement home. During this period, our team member looked to incorporate various home automation devices with the aim of making simple everyday tasks easier for their grandparent and to help keep tabs on them.
Voice Controlled Lights
This entire experiment began when our team member noticed their grandparent struggling to twist the small knob to turn on their bedside lamp with their arthritic fingers. A few days later, the house had its first Amazon Echo device and a handful of connected light bulbs. Next thing you know the grandparent had full control of every light in their bedroom via their voice. This was a big help in that if the grandparent forgot to turn off the bathroom light at night, they could do so from the comfort of their bed. The once painful task of turning their bedside lamp on and off multiple times each day became a simple three-word command— “Alexa, bedside off”. The marketing team member applied the same concept to the rest of the electronics in their grandparent’s bedroom.
Motion Based Automation
The next step in the experiment consisted of a trio of motion sensors. The first motion sensor covered the entire room, the second was placed in the bathroom and the third sensor placed just above the doorway leading to the upstairs hallway. This series of motion detectors served two main purposes. First, the sensor overlooking the full bedroom and the sensor in the bathroom combined to act as an alert system. If the grandparent had to use the bathroom at night, the sensor pairing could notify the caretaker if the grandparent did not return from the bathroom within a set period. This is a huge help in the event of a standard slip & fall incident.
The other benefit of the motion sensor trio is that they served as an alarm clock of sorts each morning. The caretaker set the motion sensors to turn a light on in their bedroom and set it to a brilliant green. The light would only turn on when triggered by the motion sensor between the hours of 5:00 am and 7:00 am, which is when the grandparent typically woke up each morning.
Front Door Smart Lock
A smart lock entered the picture as the grandparent’s health further declined and hospice caretakers began to visit on a regular basis. The keypad enabled smart lock provided the primary caretaker with some freedom, such that they did not have to be present to grant the hospice caretakers access to the house. Each hospice caretaker had their own entry code and the primary caretaker was notified of all activity through the front door via their iPhone. This provided much relief and flexibility for the primary caretaker, especially considering that the hospice caretakers did not arrive on a set schedule, but rather a window of time each day.
Alexa Drop-In is Key to Home Automation for the Elderly
The final core element to the home automation designed for our team member’s grandparent was a series of Echo Dot’s placed in each of the main rooms throughout the house. This allowed for a makeshift house-wide intercom system of sorts via Alexa’s skill to drop-in. Again, like the lightbulbs, this is operated completely via voice, which did away with the grandparent struggling with the phone keypad. Simple things like, “I need help with _______”, or “I forgot how to turn the television on” were quickly answered and handled thanks to the near instant contact provided by Alexa’s drop-in feature.
Closing Thoughts on Home Automation for the Elderly
These three relatively simple components of a home automation system made a world of a difference for all parties involved. They also go to show that home automation for the elderly is not too far fetched of an idea, nor real-world application. In addition to simplifying tasks that many take for granted, the application of new technology allowed for fresh conversation and brainstorming sessions between individuals a generation apart. If you, or someone you know, could benefit from updating your home with a basic home automation package, such as what is described above, please check out the wide range of devices that Protect America provides in addition to their professionally monitored home security services.