Friday 26 August 2016


I am pleased to host today's guest post by Maria, our regular contributor on assistive technology here at The Caregivers' Living Room. Maria is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

Caring for someone who's unable to take care of himself or herself can be a taxing, arduous task, but modern technology can make it easier. Not only do the devices on the market today enhance comfort and convenience for seniors, they also free up caregivers' time and energy by automatically handling chores that previously had to be done manually.

Perhaps nowhere is this transformation more evident than in the field of home automation. Many elders suffer from debilitating conditions that affect their mobility and capacity for operating complex machinery. Fortunately, smarthome systems allow them to control their devices easily from either a central hub or by using their cellphones. This allows more individuals to age in place within a comfortable environment rather than succumbing to the disruption of a move to an assisted living facility.

Motion sensors, such as those made by Insteon and Samsung, are one of the most useful types of products for aiding senior citizens. When connected to smart lights, like the Philips Hue bulbs, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, they can automatically adjust lighting levels and temperatures as the homeowner moves around the residence. The problems of forgetting to shut off the lights at night and being unable to reach switches and thermostat knobs become things of the past. Some types of sensors can detect when there hasn't been any motion for a specified period of time. They can then send an alert via email or text message to let a caregiver know that something might be wrong.

In the area of home security also, motion sensors security cameras have a role to play. Packages from SimpliSafe and the security camera system from Vivint can detect when someone approaches the property, providing 24/7 video recording. More sophisticated models incorporate home security cameras and video doorbells so that the senior will be able to see exactly who arrives at the house and when. With a subscription service, the company will send trained staff members to the location automatically whenever the system alerts them to something amiss, and the resident's emergency contacts will be notified as well.

While much attention is focused on the ways that sophisticated, multifaceted systems can help, even relatively humble and inexpensive products can make a big difference. Vitality's GlowCap pill containers play music and change colors to let patients know when it's time to take their medicine. They can even request refills of prescriptions with the touch of a button. The Amazon Dash platform makes it easy to reorder groceries and other supplies simply by scanning the barcodes.

All of this equipment requires an internet connection of some form in order to work properly. Seniors who aren't adept at networking and other technical chores may be able to benefit from ConnectHome, an initiative by the federal government in partnership with private organizations to expand broadband connectivity. While the program initially served primarily households with children in low income housing, it was expanded in July to cover low-income seniors as well. Elders within the service area of Comcast will be able to obtain high-speed internet access for just $9.95 per month.

The internet has already improved quality of life for the majority of the population in our country, and it's about time for seniors and the disabled to receive their fair share of the advantages too. By investigating, selecting and installing the right smarthome solutions, caregivers can increase the satisfaction and happiness of their loved ones while simultaneously making their own lives less stressful.

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