Smartphones, wearable activity trackers, doorbell cameras and virtual computing assistants like Siri and Alexa are ubiquitous these days, and for good reason. From barely noticeable voice-controlled consoles that can turn off the lights, to video doorbells that alert residents to activity on the front porch, our homes have a level of safety and convenience that previous generations would have never imagined.
Technology is particularly beneficial to the growing number of seniors opting to age in place. Generally defined as older adults remaining in their homes or a dwelling of their choice and living as independently as possible, aging in place puts a spotlight on gadgets and technologies that simplify daily activities, including things you might not have thought of. Consider these seven tech gadgets for your home, or as a gift to your aging parents or loved ones.
Automatic Jar and Can Openers
Regardless of your age or strength, jar and can tops are pesky. Over time, opening jars and using manual can openers becomes harder as we lose grip strength. Arthritis can also exacerbate these functions. Add an automatic can opener and jar opener tool to your kitchen accessories.
There are a variety of products on the market, including the Amazon Basics Electric Can Opener and Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch Electric Opener. If you still prefer the old-fashioned way, consider a product like the OXO Good Grips Snap Lock Can Opener. It’s not electric, but its snap-and-lock feature and cushioned grip handle make it easier to use. Assistive jar openers include the KitchekShop Stronger Torque Electric Automatic Hands Free Opener and the Homelet Electric Jar Opener.
Whether vacuuming zaps your energy, or you just don’t want to do it (we wouldn’t blame you), you can check this cumbersome chore off your list with a robotic vacuum cleaner. Newer models are more advanced than ever, seamlessly moving from one surface to another, docking themselves and emptying the debris without human interference. Ranging from $100 to $1,000 and up, there are many options. Brands include the iRobot Roomba, Shark and Samsung. You can also shop retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart for great deals and more options.
Yes, you read that correctly. Keeping your bathroom well-lit can reduce the risk of falls. While night lights and easily accessible lamps and light switches are the first solutions that come to mind, consider the extra step of installing lighting on your toilet.
Products include motion sensor lights like the Chunace Rechargeable Night Light and the RainBowl Toilet Night Light, or separate lit toilet seats like the Delta Faucet Elongated Night Light Toilet Seat that replace the toilet seat you have now.
Skip the frantic search next time you misplace your keys. There’s a better way. Small tiles can be placed on key rings to make locating items easy using Bluetooth technology. Products like the Tile and Apple Tag can be traced using an app on your smartphone by showing the item’s location and/or playing a sound to make it easier to locate. The key finders are easy to set up and come with simple instructions.
If you prefer, there are finders like this one made by SIMJAR that are controlled by remote controls instead of apps.
They’re not just for keys. You can attach these handy tiles to just about anything – bags, purses, remotes, headphone cases and more!
Automatic Pill Dispensers
Pill organizers make it easy to keep track of multiple medications, but they fall short in one key area – reminding you to take them. Enter the automatic pill dispenser. These gadgets can be filled up and programmed by you or a loved one by placing each day’s medications into compartments and setting timers to release the pills at certain times. When it’s time to take the medication, the device will set off an auditory alarm (in some cases a visual one, too) to indicate that it’s time to take the pill. The dispenser’s door-like compartment will open and dispense the pill. You no longer have to keep track of multiple bottles and dosages.
Features vary by model. Some can be paired using a smartphone app while others are programmed directly on the device. There’s also size, weight, type of screen display and other factors to consider. For example, the LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser has high capacity making it a great fit for seniors with complex medication regimens. The Med-E-Lert Premium Locking Automatic Pill Dispenser can be programmed for up to six alerts per day and features an easy to see flashing light within the alarm system.
Countertop Herb Gardens
For those who love to add flavor to their foods with fresh herbs, you can cut down on the more strenuous outdoor gardening. Countertop herb gardens make it easy to grow your favorite herbs within easy reach (and without all the kneeling and bending over). Products like the Click & Grow Herb Garden use energy efficient LED lights to help plants thrive. The product line offers more than 70 types of herbs, flowers, leafy greens and more. Other brands include the DISNILA Smart Garden and the VegeBox Growing System.
Smart plugs are the simplest budget-friendly way to automate nearly any plug-in device or appliance. Just plug it in, pair with your smartphone and then plug in the device you want to control. Once the device is set up, it can be turned on and off remotely from your phone. Even better, smart plugs can be controlled through voice command using a smartphone or smart speaker, making it easy for older adults with limited mobility and poor vision to control commonly used devices throughout their home.
The options are endless. You can easily turn on and off lights, fans, TVs and other electronics. Brands include Wyze Plugs, Wemo and Govee.