The top technologies and a variety of products on the market can help older adults stay home, according to Dan Bawden, founder of the national Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program for the National Association of Home Builders, and Meaghan Walls, President and CEO of Assistology, Removing Barriers Through Innovative AT Solutions. The following products cover a broad range of the home and various seniors' interests and hobbies. For more specific information, do an online search or speak with a local expert.
Pill Dispensers: A variety of pill dispensers on the market could help take the confusion out of managing daily medications. Some come with beeping reminders and flashing lights. Do an online search for the many options now available. For one solution, go to www.SimpleMeds.com.
Video Doorbell: This smart technology hooks into existing doorbells that enable a homeowner to see who comes to the door via the phone.
Voice and Remote Controlled Thermostat: Monitor thermostat functions including furnace and air conditioning by voice or by cell phone. Some systems also incorporate smoke, radon and carbon monoxide detectors.
Virtual Assistant: Amazon's Echo (which is Alexa-enabled) or Google Home allows homeowners to control their home with their voice – locking doors, turning lights on and off, adjusting the thermostat or viewing camera feeds. You can also listen to music, get traffic and weather reports, or add items to a shopping cart.
Stove Fire Prevention Devices: These devices automatically shut off a stove if it is left unattended for a specific time. This could benefit an individual in the early stages of dementia.
Adaptive Tools for Inside and Out: The effects of aging can make it difficult to maintain favorite hobbies such as gardening or doing household tasks. Some adaptive garden tools are designed to be used with one hand or accommodate balance challenges. "If a goal is to have increased ability to manage household activities, someone with vision loss and early signs of memory decline may benefit from large print labels on laundry machines, hand-held magnifiers for labels and mail, and a medication management system with audible reminder. These may increase independence for older adults and give family some peace of mind," noted Walls.
Home Monitoring Systems: Monitoring systems could help family caregivers keep tabs on the health and safety of senior loved ones. To allow for independence, some systems do not require human intervention and have the ability to monitor even body temperature and sleep. Other systems can alert caregivers to abnormal behavior. Some systems provide fall detectors and emergency response.
Amplified Phones: These phones feature extra-loud ringer and voice volume, straightforward functions, easy-to-use large buttons, backlit keypads, a visual ring indicator, hands-free speakerphone and caller ID. There are many options on the market. An online search can help you find just the right phone, or contact an expert in assistive technology.
Tools for fun: Adaptive cardholders and large print cards can provide a way for a senior with vision loss and dexterity challenges to participate in their living community's poker night, or to increase family engagement to play cards with their spouse, friend or grandchild, according to Walls. Devices like Grandpad help connect seniors with loved ones to interact remotely, and share photos and memories.
GPS Tracking Systems: GPS tracking systems can help ensure the safety of older adults who may wander because of a dementia illness.
By Delilah Onofrey, Suntory Flowers
Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers
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