It is commonly said that there is no place like home. But is the home a safe place for the elderly to live alone? With the swelling ageing population in Singapore, many have realised that smart home solutions go beyond convenience. For one, constant development in user-controlled technology offers the elderly who live alone more independence. Everyday tasks that have become cumbersome are also made easier through smart home automation. While these might all seem appealing enough solutions to leverage for efficient elderly care, one aspect of home automation that remains relatively unknown is its ability to ensure that the living environment is secure. The prevention of falls, burns, and poisonings are some of the many accidents that can be prevented with smart care solutions as well – we cover them in this blog.
Ensuring Home Safety with Smart Home Devices for the Elderly
According to reports, 47,000 seniors aged 65 and above were living alone in Singapore in 2016. However, these numbers are set to increase, as experts estimate the numbers to hit over 83,000 by 2030. The Ministry of Health has also answered several queries posed about the elderly. From questions on mental health issues to interventions to support seniors, there is no doubt that Singaporeans as a whole are concerned about the ageing population. Although it is reasonable to expect that all the needs of a senior will be met by themselves, their family, and the government, the truth of the matter is that loads happen behind closed doors. For example, falls account for approximately 40% of all injury-related deaths in Singapore. There have also been multiple news reports of fire accidents that have left a few elderly with burn injuries. As such, providing targeted care to this large group of people is crucial – and one of the key things that can reach far and wide is technology. Through the delivery of affordable smart care and the integration of smart home automation systems, safety and security can be improved for the elderly.
How a Smart Home is Different for the Elderly
When it comes to designing a smart home that caters to the needs of the elderly, a Tony Stark-esque home might not be ideal. The features of the smart home devices that are to be integrated into their homes should address challenges related to mobility, memory decline, safety, and maybe even dexterity. Another factor to consider is its ease of use. One of the key barriers to technology is its adoption. If it’s complex for you to learn and use, chances are, it’ll be harder for the elderly. Therefore, smart home solutions that take on a plug-and-play approach and allow for remote support from family members will be pivotal.
So, what are some of the key hurdles that smart home solutions can address and ensure home safety for the elderly?
1. Social Isolation and Loneliness
According to research done by the Centre for Ageing Research & Education and Duke NUS, findings indicated that living alone is often associated with more depressive symptoms. At the same time, it’s been revealed that stronger social networks lead to lower depression scores. If unable to keep the elderly company, voice assistants can act as digital companions. Capable of improving elderly care, voice assistants can also improve the lives of the elderly and the disabled through instant communication.
1 in 10 Singaporeans above the age of 60 suffers from dementia. Since some might choose to live on their own during the early stages, the forgetfulness that affects day-to-day function can pose a safety concern. Smart home solutions like smart locks can transform elderly care by enabling some form of freedom. Even if they have misplaced or lost their keys while out and about, fingerprint sensors will allow them to head home easily without worry of being locked out.
3. Accident Prevention
As mentioned, falls, burns and poisoning are some of the more dangerous accidents that must be mitigated. And smart home devices for the elderly can help prevent these. For example, smart home solution providers like HomeAuto boast products like water heater switches. Allowing you to schedule water heaters and electric stoves, caretakers of the elderly can turn on and off these electronic appliances remotely. Did your ageing parent leave the electric stove on after preparing a meal? Switch it off using the HomeAuto app – the same works for water heaters. In the case of a fire, smoke detectors and gas detectors come in handy. Instead of being unaware of a fire that has broken out or a gas stove that has been left on, these smart home gadgets will alert those in the home, providing sufficient time to get help or escape unscathed. Caretakers can also rest assured that the elderly have something at hand to immediately alert family members at times of need. The Zigbee SOS Button, for one, is a lightweight device that can be carried around and pressed when in need of help. Devices like the smart door and window sensor serve multiple purposes. Since it is common practice for homeowners to keep their medication stowed away in a designated corner, the same can be done for the elderly. Increase safety with these automated gadgets that trigger an alert via the HomeAuto app, informing that a cabinet storing medication or other harmful products has been opened.
Have queries about HomeAuto and our smart home devices for the elderly? Contact us at [email protected], and our smart home solutions providers and assistants will offer you more information on our smart care range. From picking out the right smart home solutions to prevent accidents to installing them, we have the expertise to guide you throughout the process of going smart.