Older adults are fiercely embracing the concept of “aging in place,” where seniors can stay in their own homes, or perhaps downsize to a smaller home while staying independent and out of an institutional care setting (as home-like as they may be). According to a 2011 study from the AARP Public Policy Institute, a staggering number of close to 90 percent of seniors wish to age in place.
There are a multitude of ways to make it easier for an older adult to age in place. There are the tried and true solutions of adding staircase chair lifts, raised toilet seats, walk-in tubs, and emergency pull cords in bathrooms. There are also other technological ways to help older adults if they don’t want to leave their beloved homes. It can be a perfect time to introduce seniors to new technology to keep connected with family, old friends, ex-coworkers, and even people they served in the military with.
Aging in Place with Tech
EMERGENCIES – This is a hot button issue with the senior community, and that’s no pun intended. Keeping emergency contact info in one’s wallet and having a medical alert bracelet are both still great ways to keep safe if an accident happens. New technology is also helping to save seniors’ lives.
Looking into a device like GreatCall is terrific for those on the go. It can be carried around and can even have a wristband added to it for an added sense of security. The device, which costs $50 with an additional $20 a month for service, is water proof and will work anywhere you take it, much like a cell phone. The object is light, looks cool, and works with the single push of a button to contact emergency services.
In the worst case scenario, a smart phone will be good in any emergency situation. Even on a password locked iPhone, you can teach a loved one to swipe right and click the “Emergency” button on the bottom left side of the screen. For an Android phone, there is also an “Emergency Call” button at the bottom of the screen, even if the phone is password-locked.
STAYING IN TOUCH – Smart phones have become a great tool for older adults, as there are no buttons to physically push down on, they have voice-activated digital assistants (Siri and Cortana), and screens are getting bigger. With additional devices like the Apple Watch and Android Watches, it’s easy to keep your daily reminders right at your wrist. With these futuristic accessories, you can schedule notices for the day, use a stop watch to time what you are cooking or when laundry is done, message your family, plus listen to music or the radio from it.
For those who don’t want to invest in yet another gadget, there are apps that can be added to existing devices seniors own that will keep them connected to others. Getting seniors on smart phones and giving them access to apps like FaceTime or Skype will allow them to have face-to-face conversations with family. The smart phones will also be able to do all of the aforementioned features the smart watches can do.
KEYS – There are many tracking devices as small as a keychain which can be attached to the senior’s keys to find them is they become lost. Attaching these devices to keys, plus pet collars, purses, jewelry, and the keychains of family members, will help put more minds at ease.
As an example, Kwikset can outfit seniors with Remote Access Capability! The user is be provided an app where they will be able to lock and unlock their door remotely from a smart phone. There is also a notification sent to the senior homeowner when their lock is accessed taking security and peace of mind to another level.
GROCERIES & FOOD – If you or a loved one can’t make it to the grocery store, or just plain don’t want to go, there are merchants who will deliver it to you! AmazonFresh, Walmart, PeaPod, FreshDirect, and Safeway deliver to most places in the country, and you’ll be able to check via zip code initially before placing an order to see if they service your area. They will deliver perishables, room temperature goods, and even fully prepared meals to your door.
For city dwellers, using GrubHub or Delivered Dish are terrific online food delivery sites for narrowing down what kind of food you want, who has the best deals, and the best ratings. Want egg rolls after nine at night? Go for it!
TRANSPORTATION – Lyft, Sidecar and Uber are terrific alternatives to taxis or waiting for public transit, especially when seniors likely have to walk a good distance just to get to a bus or train stop. For independent seniors who don’t mind hoofing it to public transit, but then need to get somewhere farther than the bus or train stops, companies like Car2Go and Zipcar continue to expand their car sharing programs nationally.
Amanda Rosenblatt is a writer for Federal Home Loan Centers, where they assist seniors with short sales or help them downsize to better homes. Visit their site or tweet them at @fedhomeloan to see what they can do for you.