Have you met Alexa? Had any conversations with Siri lately? If the answer is yes, you’ve used smart technology or home automation. It may seem futuristic if you haven’t used these devices before, but you’ll quickly find that you’re not sure how you got along without them. For baby boomer seniors looking to simplify their lives or cram more fun into precious free time, amazing technology is available that can automate chores and allow you to enjoy the most important things in your active lives.
Smart Technology You May Already Be Using
You probably already have a programmable thermostat or maybe a smartphone so you’re already part of the way there! Imagine what more you can do with this rapidly growing technology:
- Use a video doorbell to check on package deliveries, unexpected visitors or unsolicited salespeople
- Turn on that cozy fireplace before you get home from a winter commute
- Learn of system failure (electricity, plumbing, heating) before your home suffers damage
- Check on pets or grandchildren when you can’t be there
- Automate your window blinds to open or close as the weather changes
- Lock your door even if you’re miles away from home
If you want to have multiple options but keep the cost in check, a virtual assistant may be a good place to start. You’ll need a smart speaker (and Wi-Fi) to use the technology, but the service is free or low cost. Depending on the manufacturer, costs for the speaker (a small, unobtrusive device that can fit most spaces) range from less than $100 to as much as $300+. The capability and quality may also differ somewhat, but they have many of the same features.
There’s a lot to be said for these types of smart devices; they’re generally hands-free so you can be otherwise occupied and talk to it as you would a human (a little sci-fi but you get used to, and dependent on it, pretty quickly!). They can play music, answer questions, operate the lights, or any number of other “intelligent” tasks. For example, although it’s not the only virtual assistant on the market, most people have heard of Alexa (officially Amazon Alexa). iHome offers multiple consumer electronic products – alarm clocks/clock radios, home audio systems, headphones and accessories for smartphones and tablets.
They can be a handy addition to your household and millions of people trust them in their homes. But you may also have heard of concerns about privacy with devices like these. The news has reported that Alexa may be recording private conversations or that they are vulnerable to hackers. Some simple precautions can prevent issues and alleviate any concerns you may have. As with most electronics, buy from a reputable source and do your research.
And, if you haven’t tried robot vacuum cleaners, be prepared to fall in love. Program them to run while you’re out of the house or doing something much more fun or relaxing. And, if you think that’s great, imagine a robot lawn mower. Yep – it exists. You may be the type of person who likes to mow your lawn. That’s fine. But there are still times that you’d like to have the choice. Check out the Husqvarna Automower. Husqvarna claims that it’s the best-selling robotic mower and, with the Husqvarna name, you know it’s well-built.
Is It Affordable?
Making your home a true smart home with all the bells and whistles can cost $2000 and up (and up some more). However, the costs of home automation are decreasing as the technology becomes more available and competition increases. There are so many options that you don’t have to spend your vacation money to afford some of your favorite gadgets. There are as many ways to automate your home as there are costs associated with it.
The first thing you’ll need is a smartphone or other voice-activated device to program and operate any smart devices you’ll be using. And, if you use multiple devices, you may need a smart hub – think of it as the command center to make everything play well together. The best smart hubs range in price from under $100 to a few hundred dollars.
If you’re on a budget, the trick to automating your home is to make a plan. Start by deciding what your biggest priority is and how much you plan to spend. You may be able to achieve your goal for as little as $50, up to a few hundred dollars.
If your goals are a bit bigger but you still don’t want to break the bank, you can automate many of the systems in your house for less than $1000. Also encouraging is that some home builders are incorporating automation into their new builds, so the work is already done for you.
Automated Safety And Security
With all the smart devices available, most seniors can find technology that will make aging in place so much easier. Falls or other accidents at home are fairly common for the average person and can be life-threatening for seniors. A smart home sensor system like TruSense can do everything from monitoring falls around the home to tracking a loved one while on the road through the use of GPS technology.
There are even smart tracking devices like PillDrill that monitor medication dosages and schedules. You can program it to notify your family if a dosage is missed.
For the illusion that your loved ones are in the room with you, try home video systems like Lighthouse Al.
Have pets? Program a smart pet monitoring device like the PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder to automatically deliver food and water at pre-determined times so you don’t have to rush home at an inopportune time (but, if you don’t have a doggy door……).
Whether you just like gadgets, want more safety and security in your home or want to focus on the most important things in life, there is a smart device to fit your needs. In addition to all of the helpful automation, automating your home can be fun.
Now, Alexa! – start the vacuum, pour me a glass of wine and play Bruno Mars!
I’m a “reformed” corporate HR/business professional/adjunct professor, now happily transitioned into a freelance writing lifestyle as a second act. My joys include family and active grandparenthood, love of the outdoors, and travel adventures. I write/edit a wide variety of business and lifestyle articles, case studies and thought leadership guides. I’m only partway through the new chapters of my life so I’m working on blogging and writing several ebooks for my next projects. I try to live life by my motto – “I’ll get older but never old!”