Aging homeowners whose health needs may require sudden medical attention are a major driver in the use of medical alert systems. Increasingly, smart home technology — tech that allows users to control home appliances via their smartphone or computer — has been integrating medical alert systems.
The use of these systems has allowed aging individuals to do everything from adjust their thermostats to call 911 from the palm of their hand.
“At every smart home conference that I attend, there’s at least one headliner from the health medical alert industry,” says smart home strategist Dan DiClerico of home improvement resource platform HomeAdvisor. “There’s an intersection, and it’s getting busier.”
Smart Home Technology and Medical Alert Systems
More than half of homeowners want some form of home automation technology in the form of smart energy systems, lights, thermostats, or locks and alarms, according to PolicyAdvice.
Meanwhile, depending on income levels, only 24-44 percent of them are interested in purchasing security and safety systems, and the same amount are interested in home utility devices, according to the same source
“The capabilities of a smart home can include having Wi-Fi-enabled door lock sensors that track a person’s movements, which may or may not be a medical alert,” DiClerico says.
“They identify stumbles or long periods of stillness and have hands-free or voice-activated lighting and thermostat devices, as well as kitchen appliances that can be operated remotely with a smartphone.”
Known as sensors in the smart home technology movement, medical alert systems are making it possible for senior citizens to stay in their homes for longer periods of time before being moved to an assisted living or memory-care facility, according to experts.
“Sensors are a fantastic way for loved ones or caregivers to keep tabs on an older homeowner who perhaps suffers from dementia or some other kind of disability,” DiClerico says.
Improving the Ability to Age in Place
The term aging in place means “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Homeowners accomplish this, in part, by modifying their homes.
More than one in four adults fall in their homes each year, according to the CDC. To make matters worse, falling once doubles your odds of falling again.
Home modification — including the installation of smart home technology — ranks among the top three ways adults can prevent injury at home.
“This is a trend that is building, but it still has a long way to go,” DiClerico says.
Additionally, by 2035, one in five people will be over 65 years old, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. And 90 percent of soon-retiring individuals plan to stay in their homes as they age, according to numbers provided by AARP.
Research, meanwhile, recommends home improvement projects, like smart home tech, that can help prevent falls or help aging people cope with the increased difficulty of mobility and other age-related struggles.
The Use of Smart Home Technology in Caring for Aging Parents
“More and more technology is starting to factor into conversations between millennials and their older parents,” DiClerico says. It’s called the millennial effect because millennials are early adopters of technology, including smart home devices.
“The smart home movement evolved from earlier days when installing monitoring devices was about keeping an eye on children or pets,” DiClerico says. “But aging in place for seniors is the latest application that’s going to drive the technology.
In addition to installing medical alert systems, millennials can explore the use of connected cameras or smart speakers that also operate as intelligent personal assistants, similar to Siri and Alexa, to provide a concerned adult child with the ability to intervene remotely.
Additional reporting by Connor Beckett McInerney.