Communication Devices and Home Automation Tools Perfect for Seniors

Updated 8/25/15 11:33am | Alert1 recognizes that an increased US life expectance means the senior care industry faces a significant shortage of caregivers. Our research has shown that providing regular care for a senior has significant financial, emotional, and health related challenges for the caregiver.  Alert1 believes new technology will help support caregivers so that they can deliver the level of support seniors deserve. But in spite of the explosion of new products over the past few years, few of them have seen wide-spread adoption.

Alert1 is prepared to support the senior care industry in accepting this new technology. In this article we will discuss products for the home that will help both seniors and their caregivers communicate and move around the home.

Communication and mobility are key ingredients to a senior’s feelings of independence. New developments in accessible devices help seniors interact with their environment safely and in a more fulfilling manner.

Captioned Telephones for Seniors

Captioned telephone by Captel®

Overview

For seniors with limited hearing it is difficult to use phone. Cell phones present an even greater challenge for seniors with their complex functionality. This can severely limit their communication with their loved ones and lead to feelings of isolation. Captioned telephones allow seniors with impaired hearing to catch every word. They work exactly like a normal telephone, with the addition of a large, high-contrast screen that displays every word callers say. Even if the senior cannot hear the amplified phone, they can read what is being said and respond as normal.

How It Helps Caregivers

The phone is the easiest way for seniors to contact their caregivers and for caregivers to check in on their charges. It is essential for seniors to keep in touch with their caregivers to schedule appointments and communicate their needs. For many seniors, the phone is the primary means of communication with their Circle of Care which includes close friends and family.  Without it they cannot keep in touch, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. When they do attempt to use the phone, there is frustration on both ends of the line when the senior cannot understand the caller. Closed caption call makes the entire process smoother on both ends. They allow smooth communication without embarrassment or misunderstanding.

Market Adoption

For those with medically recognized hearing loss, captioned telephones are provided for free by the FCC as a provision of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. For those who need captioning services without medically recognized hearing lost, captioned telephones can be purchased with prices running from $70 to $200. For those with hearing loss, these telephones are invaluable. They are reasonably priced, and installation is as simple as any other phone.

We believe these telephones are suffering from a lack of recognition by the senior care industry. Many seniors struggle with phones but are unaware there is a simple solution. We predict the adoption rate will be high on these phones once consumers become aware of their existence. 

Seniors Friendly Emails

Computerless Email by Presto®

Overview

Computerless email allows communication with seniors who are unwilling or unable to use the computer, or who never check their email. A loved one can send emails to the senior and the message automatically prints out in letter format in the senior’s home. This allows seniors to keep in touch with their family without using the computer. These devices can even print out news and crossword puzzles, functioning like a daily newspaper.

How It Helps Caregivers

Today’s caregivers are dependent on smart technology in and around the home. A senior may never hear from their grandchildren by phone but receive regular emails from them. Event invitations sent by email might never be seen in an unchecked email inbox. Computerless email devices mean seniors will not miss out on important information that is sent by email.

Market Adoption

In April 2012, the Pew Research Center found that for the first time more than half of adults 65 or older were internet users. This number is only increasing. Nevertheless, older adults face unique challenges when it comes to technology. Seniors with arthritis challenges, those skeptical about the benefits of technology, and those who need assistance learning to use new technologies are all significantly less likely to use computers and the internet. Many older adults who do use the internet never check their email and do not realize they are missing important information.

We predict that these devices are most often purchased by loved ones and given to seniors. These loved ones want to communicate by email and are frustrated that the older adult does not get their messages. By 2015, eMarketer® forecasts there will be over 26 million senior internet users in the US. We believe that adoption of these devices will slow as the older population becomes more tech-savvy.

Senior Mobility and Automatic Door Openers

Automatic Door Opener by Skylink®

Overview

Automatic door openers are a staple in commercial establishments thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and now they are available for the home. These openers allow any kind of swinging door to be opened using a motion sensor, key code, or wearable button. Home safety features include automatic locks and sensors to prevent the door from opening if there is an obstacle in the way.

How It Helps Caregivers

Automatic door openers allow seniors with restricted mobility to move around their home without hassle. Automatic locks and opening mean seniors do not have to maneuver keys, locks, and handles. There is no need for strength or leverage to push or pull a door open. These openers let seniors independently move around their home while keeping the privacy and security of their current doors.

Market Adoption

We predict automatic door openers to be adopted quickly once they become widely available. They are priced at a couple hundred dollars for several doors. The price does go up the more doors that are covered, but we expect that these prices will go down as these openers become more popular. Overall these openers are reasonably priced, quickly installed, and very useful to those who struggle to navigate around their homes. 

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Smart Lights for Bright Seniors

Smart lights by WeMo®

Overview

Seniors who cross dark rooms to turn on a light switch are at increased risk of falling and injuring themselves. This is especially pertinent to help battle the percentage of seniors who slip or fall during the night. Modern lights can be turned on from anywhere in the room. Some lights can be controlled with a smartphone so that they can be turned on from anywhere. Other lights have handheld controls that can control all the lighting in the house from one remote. These smart lights have sensors so that the lights dim when no one is in the around for energy savings. WeMo®

How It Helps Caregivers

The CDC recommends improving the lighting in the home to reduce the risk of falls. As seniors age their eyes need more light to see. More lighting means tripping hazards are illuminated. Seniors with limited mobility to reach light switches are ideal candidates for this technology, but smart lighting is an amenity that everyone can use in their home. Caregivers should always be sure the home is well lit for aging eyes.

Market Adoption

We predict that smart lighting will dramatically increase in popularity for seniors and in all markets. The convenience and energy savings make it an attractive option. New constructions are already beginning to feature smart lighting, and we predict the adoption rate will only increase.