By 2050, the number of older adults aged 50 and older is expected to double, comprising 20% of the total US population. The overwhelming majority want to age in place, but experts say the current housing stock is ill-equipped to handle those desires.
Lighting can be controlled based on motion through simple solutions that only require the replacement of a light switch in many cases. Combined with circadian lighting, this can also facilitate better sleep schedules which can improve occupant well-being as well as alertness, potentially reducing chances of accidents for those aging in place.
Natural light and views are important elements when designing for one’s health and well-being. However, seniors with limited mobility often opt to keep window coverings closed, viewing the task of opening blinds and curtains as too much of a hassle for little perceived benefit. Motorized (or automated) window shading solves this issue by diminishing the exertion on the part of the occupant. When set to a schedule by a professional integrator, shades can raise and lower themselves throughout the day without any input needed. Even if control of the shading is delivered via a remote, that still provides a far more senior-friendly technology solution with the potential of improved circadian entrainment.
For those with accessibility issues, voice control can become a powerful tool for controlling home functions. Voice assistants like Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomeKit can control home functions and even be used to program specific notifications for those aging in place. Imagine a senior forgets to turn off the back porchlight before returning to their bed on the second floor of their home. When they are in their bed, they notice the light out back flooding into their room, potentially impacting their sleep. Connecting a smart light through a voice control hub, a simple command can be programmed to shut off the light, rather than requiring the individual to walk back downstairs to turn it off. While simple, this level of customization allows an integrator to identify specific pain points in a homeowner’s daily routine and develop specific, individualized aging in place automation.
Many people with an aging parent know that technology support can become an endless task for family and friends, however. Smart home devices should only be deployed if there is adequate nearby support to keep the smart home devices operating as intended.