Planning on ageing in place? Here’s how you can make your home a smart home.

Elderly couple sitting comfortably on a sofa with their backs holding remote home control system on a digital tablet

Here at Mable, we’ve provided tips from the experts about how ageing Australians can maintain independence for longer. Access to flexible local support when you need it is a secret to ageing well – but increasingly, so are homes that are built to be future-proof. Don’t worry – even if your place was not designed with ageing in mind, there’s technology available that can turn your home into a “smart” one.

Deakin University is home to the recently-launched ARC Research Hub for Digital Enhanced Living – a collaborative research centre that develops in-home treatments and monitoring that aim to improve mental and physical wellness and reduce the time of cognitive decline.

According to Aged Care Guide, the hub was launched with a $3 million government grant in a bid to develop the tools needed to keep Australians living at home for longer.

Deakin University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Iain Martin, says the Hub will not only focus on developing technology for ageing, but also disability rehabilitation support.

“We will be developing effective, affordable and safe in-home and in-residential care solutions, such as smartphone technology to support the mental health of elderly people and avatar learning tools to improve care for people with dementia,” Professor Martin says.

How to make your home a smart home

While the ARC Research Hub has only just started its work, there are already a number of tools on the market that can help Australians maintain independent living for longer.

Support at your fingertips

Here at Mable, we believe in innovation is central to independent living. In fact, it’s innovative use of technology that enables the many thousand connections made via Mable each day. A platform that provides access to a community of independent support workers, Mable creates a safety net of flexible, affordable community-based support which can be arranged all online.

Motion sensitive lighting

Path and motion-sensitive lighting are a great way to prevent falls when returning home in the evening, or getting up in the middle of the night.  You can find these at most lighting stores, or pick up some from Amazon.

Personal fall detectors

Personal emergency response bands are a great way to give family peace of mind. According to Choice, most personal alarms are designed to alert a pre-selected contact like a family member. Some, however, can connect to a 24 hour call centre – but generally these will be subject to a subscription fee – typically between $20 and $40 per month.

Medication management devices

As reported by the Medical Journal of Australia, a review conducted in 2017 identified more than 800 medication management apps designed to support medication management, available from the Windows, iTunes, Google Play and Blackberry app stores. If you think you need something a little more sophisticated than a Webster-Pak, Tab Timer create a number of devices designed to help people remember important medicines, personal care tasks, or to assist with general daily living requirements.

Voice Controlled Devices

Amazon Echo and its Artificial Intelligence Alexa is a smart speaker that can be used for a number of useful functions for the elderly. The writers at Tech Enhanced Life had their team of ‘Longevity Explorers’ test out the device and found it useful for things like listening to music, the news or weather, and controlling lights and thermostat in their homes. The downsides were the need for intelligent devices to pair with the Echo to get the right functionality.

According to Forbes, we’re just scratching the surface with the potential of these types of devices. By combining with wearable fitness trackers, these devices could even provide health-related prompts to stay physically active and meet fitness goals.

Home monitoring

Home monitoring technology is only getting more sophisticated, with products like StaySmartCare emerging from the US, which “uses monitors to collect data on the daily activities of your loved one. No wearables required. We monitor health data, activity data, medication data, and cognitive data for a complete picture of how your loved one is doing around the clock – without interrupting their activities of daily living or intruding upon their privacy.” Family members and caregivers are alerted when anything out of the ordinary happens.

If that sounds a little too ‘big brother’ for you, there are simpler devices available that monitor the home and detect smoke in case of a fire and moisture in case a tap has been left on.

For more ideas, Ageing In Place Technology Watch provides trends, research and analysis of products on the market that help people live independently for longer.

Mable gives you an easy and safe online platform to find independent support workers from your local area. Plus, by using your home care package to arrange your own support, your funding can go further. Find out more.