Smart-home tech might help older adults live independently longer

Benny Evangelista | December 8, 2017

For an octogenarian with arthritic knees, a voice-controlled light switch could ease the pain of having to stand and walk just to illuminate a room.

For a nonagenarian, a robot that offers brain-teasing games to help keep her mind sharp could become an ideal companion.

And for the centenarian, sensors imbued with artificial-intelligence technology to automatically summon help if he has trouble getting out of bed could be a lifesaver.

Indeed, smart-home technologies that younger adults see as fun, convenient, trendy gadgets will become increasingly vital for older adults to continue active, independent and secure lives in their own houses, especially if medical science continues to extend life-expectancy rates.

“People are living longer, but a lot of them are suffering from medical conditions,” said Barry Sardis, 70, a retired San Jose resident who has been helping to test a small robot companion, called the ElliQ, that is specifically designed for seniors. “And just getting old is a bummer.

A recent survey by the research firm Parks Associates of adults age 40 and over found that 80 percent expected to still be living in their own homes when they were 80 years old.

That expectation, however, is contingent on maintaining the financial means and the physical abilities to continue to live independently. While smart-home technology can’t help boost financial security, it could help seniors with health and safety concerns.

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