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Many seniors value their independence so much so that they would rather live alone or with their spouse than receive care in a nursing home. Ninety percent of Americans aged 60 and above planned to stay at home for the next five to 10 years, an American Association of Retired Persons survey found.

Do your parents want to age on their own You'd naturally worry about them. They aren't strong enough to protect themselves. While you can hire a caregiver, something can still go wrong. What if their house catches fire? What if they fall? What if a burglar attacks?

Home automation is the answer to your concerns about keeping your aging parents safe, secure, and comfortable. This smart technology consists of devices designed for elders and people with special needs. Today's smart home systems come with home security, emergency assistance, accident prevention, and other useful features that allow seniors to live independently while giving you peace of mind.

With today's seniors becoming more tech-savvy, the old folks may welcome the idea of home automation, especially if you help them understand its benefits to their health and safety. Consider getting them these five essential smart home devices:

Security camera

Most security cameras come with video monitoring capability that enables you to keep a close eye on your parents. Because a security camera connects to the internet, you can monitor them remotely from your mobile device. Look for one with integrated motion and sound sensors that will alert you when an intruder tries to break in.

Keeping tabs on the elders from afar is good. But how do you assure them they can get immediate help when they need it? After installing a security camera, get a 24/7 home alarm monitoring service. A central station monitoring service tracks alarm systems that, when triggered, will instantly send police, fire personnel or medics to your parent's home.

Smart home locks

smart locksPhoto courtesy of Maurizio Pesce via Flickr, Creative Commons

Seniors are easy targets for burglary because they're perceived to be vulnerable, according to a US Bureau of Justice Statistics report. They may be too weak or forgetful to keep the doors locked all the time.

Smart locks are among the must-have home automation devices not just for elders but also for younger persons with special needs. These gadgets are useful to those who can barely move due to arthritis or other medical conditions. With smart locks, only a connected smartphone is needed to automatically lock and unlock the doors.

More advanced smart home locks provide a wider range of security features. You can opt to receive alerts when a door opens and you're away from your parents. Some smart lock systems automatically lock a door when it's left unlocked for a certain period. Others can be customized to set a schedule for locking and unlocking the doors every day.

Smart doorbell

If you have a senior or a hearing-impaired family member, it makes sense to install a smart doorbell in addition to smart locks.

This home automation device alerts you and the elders (or special-needs people) when the doorbell rings. Then the smart doorbell sends a camera feed to smartphones, enabling you and your parents to check who is at the door. This feature helps you know whether the person is an important guest or a potential burglar. The seniors also won't have to get up, which reduces the risk of tripping over something before they get to the door.

For those with difficulty hearing, smart doorbells can be used along with mobile apps so that a smartphone blinks an alert or vibrates when the system’s motion sensor detects someone at the door.

Smart pillbox

For many seniors, it’s easy to forget and be confused with the medications they have to take. Worse, they might accidentally overdose or take the wrong ones.

How do you ensure that your elders always take their pills on time? Good thing, a smart pillbox or electronic medicine dispenser connects to smartphones and sends notification reminders to elderly patients so that they won't miss their medications. This home automation device will also alert you when your parents fail to take their meds.

Smartwatch

smart watch

Wearable tech used to be designed only for the young and hip. But nowadays, some smartwatch models can meet the special needs of seniors, especially those with Alzheimer's disease and memory disorders.

Smartwatches for seniors are life-saving gadgets because of their emergency feature—with just a touch of a button, a user can immediately call for help. Let’s say an elder falls down the stairs and gets injured badly. He can barely move and get up to reach for his phone to make an emergency call. But he can easily use his smartwatch to call his family, friends or anyone who can help.

A GPS-enabled smartwatch can reduce the risk of wandering away from home, which happens to people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association found that 60% of dementia patients would wander off at least once in their life. A smartwatch with a geofencing feature on your old parent's wrist will alert you if he suddenly leaves home.

Home automation devices for elders and people with special needs are indeed useful during emergencies when no one is around to help them. They allow you to monitor them from afar and ensure their safety, security, good health, and comfort when you're not with them. But before you get your loved ones such gadgets, sit down with them first and discuss why they need home automation and how to use the system properly.

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