Technology that Supports Aging in Place

“My home is my castle” aptly expresses many clients’ deep and emotional connection to their homes. Whether it’s the blue chair in the living room or the rocking horse next to it, each item brings back fond memories, making it difficult to think about moving anywhere else. It’s no wonder that over 80% of older adults intend to “Age in Place” in their homes for the next five to 10 years, according to AARP’s 2012 survey.

Aging in Place Technology

Successful aging in place depends on a multitude of factors including a safe home environment, supportive communities, and easy access to services. By adopting and using the right aging in place technology, older adults can live longer and healthier in the comfort of their own homes.

Increasing Safety with “Smart” Home Environments

Many companies offer systems that create “smart” home environments where sensors can detect and monitor daily activities such as sleeping, eating, and leaving the house. For example, SmartThings developed a home automation system that connects wireless sensors and smart devices to a central hub, which can send text messages to notify caretakers when someone opens the front door, gets out of bed or removes food from the fridge. The system can also loop in smart thermostats, smart plugs, door locks and surveillance cameras. Such systems can be highly customizable and built to suit individual needs, and they’re widely available: many big box stores have their own connected home systems and sell low cost starter kits you can expand by purchasing additional sensors.

In a “smart” home environment, caretakers and family members can monitor and supervise the senior more effectively, and be aware of an unsafe situation quickly, allowing them to respond promptly. This can result in a safer home environment.

Using Technology to Stay Connected

Whether it’s viewing pictures on Facebook or emailing your doctor about a particular condition, technology has allowed everyone to communicate more easily and frequently with those around them. With a few touches of a button, video call programs like Facetime enable older adults to see their grandchildren, children and friends on a regular basis.

Caregiving and care management agencies, like LivHOME, are also developing their own systems to help older adults stay connected with their families and doctors. For example, LivHOME offers a tablet that allows care managers to quickly assess a client’s situation remotely, create a customized plan of care, initiate regular “check-ins” through face to face video calls, deliver real time alerts and manage chronic conditions.   Families can receive real time information and feedback on how their loved one is doing. While these devices do not replace caregivers and managers, they serve to regularly monitor the older adult’s condition and facilitate the delivery of information.

Making Life More Convenient

The proliferation of online shopping options allows older adults and their caregivers to make fewer trips to buy daily essentials. Amazon, a leader in online shopping, offers unlimited 2-day shipping for $99 through their prime program. Walmart is following suit by piloting a program which offers unlimited 3-day shipping for $50. Through Amazon or Walmart, you can purchase snacks, drinks, medicine and so forth for prices similar to grocery and drug stores. Items can also be delivered on a set schedule using Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. These features allow loved ones to shop for older adults and have the items delivered directly to their door step.

More Technology to Come

In the coming decade, with the baby boomer generation entering their 60s and 70s, we expect far more resources to be spent on developing technological solutions that can improve older adults’ quality of life and reduce the cost of long term care. We at Blankinship & Foster will continue to share information with you regarding aging in place technology advancements as they become available.

For more information about Aging In Place, read our related blog article: Plan Now for Living Arrangements Later. To learn more about creating a successful Aging In Place plan, please contact us.

Image Credit: © 2015 SmartThings, Inc./

About Monica Ma

Monica Ma, CFP®, CFA® is an advisor and the chair of the Investment Committee at Blankinship & Foster LLC. She helps clients build sound investment portfolios and develop strategic plans to reach their goals. Since Monica is passionate about sharing her knowledge with women and retirees, she co-leads the firm's Wise Women and Living Wisely Educational Series. Monica is a member of the International Community Foundation's Investment and Finance Committee. She has been living in San Diego since 2008 and enjoys travelling and cooking with her family.

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