Almost every individual within the 70+ age bracket wants to remain independent in his or her own home. Unfortunately, it becomes difficult to stay independent if certain tasks become too difficult to do by yourself. Technology may be the answer. Today, technology can assist in safety, mobility within the home, the ability to do daily tasks, and taking care of daily needs.
There are specially designed mobile phones for older people that feature big buttons and extra loud speakers. These phones also have brighter screens and larger text to ensure ease of reading and communication. You can also scout the market for personal emergency response systems, such as emergency pendants, that could help you in case of an emergency. Such systems can be set up to allow you to notify your children or anybody else if there is an issue at home. For instance, some monitoring systems will call an emergency dispatcher if you deviate from a normal routine, such as not coming down for breakfast at your usual time, or staying in the bathroom an hour too long. It will alert somebody if, for instance, the shower was left running the entire day, the door left open, or if you do not turn on the telly and you happen to be an avid TV watcher. There are also smart detection devices that work harder than your ordinary smoke alarm and may detect and alert you to any toxic gases in the kitchen.
These technologies are designed to help keep us safe, to help us perform our daily tasks with ease, and to help us meet our everyday needs.
Getting up and down stairs can be a real difficulty. If you live in a double-storey or even triple storey house, you could install an elevator if the structure of the house and your budget allows it. Alternatively, there are stairlifts that can ensure that you make it up and down the staircases at home safely. All you do is sit down, strap in, and enjoy not having to worry about falls, or about any pain associated with climbing staircases at home. Even in homes that are a single storey, there may still be a few steps that can cause difficulty – ramps may be a way around this or at least adding a rail could make it easier and safer to handle the few steps.
Diane Cook, the director of the Smart Homes Project in the Center for Advanced Studies in Adaptive Systems, pointed out that there are now smart technologies that can help you monitor movements in your home, automatically adjust the temperature, and even automatically turn on the lights when you enter a room. Since 2006, Cook has been designing homes with artificial intelligence – houses that “think”. For somebody who might not be able to move around that much, technologies like these keep you from having to stand up to turn off the light switch or looking for the remote control or manually shutting down your climate control systems. Some of these technologies include smart clocks that wake you up in the morning and begin the coffee maker at the same time, ensuring that you have a hot cup drink ready before you get to the kitchen. And to get there, you could take the automated Stairlift that will take you from upstairs to downstairs without adding any pressure or strain to your knees and joints.
These are just examples of technology that can help people in their 60s, 70s and 80s stay independent a while longer as they go about their day to day lives.
There are also robot cleaners; vacuum systems that pretty much take care of your entire floor without requiring intervention. In fact, they clean and clean until their batteries run out, and when they do run low on power, they’ll take themselves back to their base to recharge. There are also fridges, irrigation systems, air conditioning units, televisions, and computers that all work off voice control. There are even units that help you control your own house with voice alone. Just call the name of the device and tell it what to do, and it’ll ensure the doors are locked, the lights are off, and your phone is on silent. The beauty of smart products is that these devices also have the ability to learn and be programmed to your behaviour.
Medications are, sadly, a huge part of growing old. A number of those over 50 tend to forget their medications, or mistakenly take the wrong one. Thankfully, there are smart medication reminders that can help you remember when to take your pills. These devices range from pillboxes with timers and alarms and even those that will alert you if you have not taken your medication, or if you forgot you’d already taken it and were about to double dose. For the hearing impaired, there are telephones and doorbells that also come with a flashing light to let you know when the phone is ringing or when somebody is at the door.
These are just examples of technology that can help people in their 60s, 70s and 80s stay independent a while longer as they go about their day to day lives. These technologies are designed to help keep us safe, to help us perform our daily tasks with ease, and to help us meet our everyday needs.