The concept of the smart home is nothing new, of course. From doorbell cameras to remote home monitoring, for years, smart technologies have made life easier and homeownership more enjoyable. But did you know that smart home technologies aren’t just about efficiency and convenience anymore? Now more than ever, your tech-enabled smart home can help you live a longer, healthier, and more independent life.
Safe(r) at Home
Perhaps the greatest promise of today’s smart home is its potential to revolutionize care and quality of life for persons with disabilities and seniors looking to age-in-place in their own homes. Whereas health risks might once have made independent living impossible, there are now affordable, easy-to-use technologies that can help overcome them.
Remote monitoring devices have been around for a while. Now, though, they’re being equipped with motion sensors that can detect falls or even alert caregivers and healthcare providers when monitors detect a change in the homeowner’s normal routine. This helps homeowners and their loved ones feel secure that, should a problem arise, help will quickly be on the way.
Furthermore, smart technologies can enable those with mobility issues to control devices and appliances—such as lights, smart door locks, and HVAC—remotely, and even through voice. For those with cognitive impairments, appliances can be programmed to the homeowner’s particular needs and preferences.
Smart refrigerators, for example, can monitor contents and place online orders for regular items at the preferred grocery store. Not only that, but today’s smart ovens can be monitored and controlled via smartphone, giving caregivers the peace of mind of knowing their loved one will always have a hot meal, without the risk of an unattended burner or cookstove.
The In-Home Doctor’s Office
Thanks to the advent of telemedicine, patients no longer have to leave the safety and security of their homes to receive consistent, high-quality healthcare. Telemedicine allows patients to connect with their healthcare teams through secure patient portals allowing real-time video conferencing and the sharing of essential data and electronic health records (EHR).
Telemedicine also enables remote patient monitoring, allowing healthcare providers to perform myriad of patient tests, from EEGs and ECGs to sleep studies and continuous glucose monitoring, all from the comfort of home. Best of all, new smart health technologies that are integrated directly into the structure of the home are now being developed.
These include showers equipped to run quick and accurate health checks whenever they are used and to alert healthcare providers to potentially significant changes in the user’s vitals.
Down and Dirty
As instrumental as today’s technology may be in transforming the modern home into a healthcare hub, not everything is rosy. All of these devices that we integrate into our homes or carry around with us in the palm of our hands can be germ magnets and breeding grounds for bacteria.
Yet, we rarely consider how vital it is to sanitize and disinfect our smart devices every day. This should not only include daily cleaning, but also good tech hygiene. One of the best strategies, for instance, is to ban mobile devices from high-risk areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, to decrease the chances that your tech will collect or transmit germs that can make you sick.
Today’s smart homes are no longer just about quality of life. They’re also about quantity of life. That’s because today’s technology-enabled houses are more than just a home. They’re also modern health hubs, not only making life better, but also promoting inhabitants’ vitality, longevity, and autonomy, particularly for seniors and those with disabilities.