Savvy Senior: Looking for smart home solutions for aging-in-place? Here are some ideas – Yahoo News
DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: I’m interested in automating my house with some smart home products to make it more convenient for aging-in-place but worry about privacy. What types of devices do you recommend and how can I guard against eavesdropping?
— Paranoid Patty
DEAR PATTY: There are actually a wide variety of smart home products you can add to your home that can help make it safer and easier to live in as you age. Here are some popular options along with some tips to help ensure your privacy.
Smart home advantages
Smart home products — such as smart lights, video doorbells and voice-activated speakers — are becoming increasingly common tools to help seniors age-in-place. These nifty devices can add convenience and safety to a home by providing voice and app-controlled operation, which is extremely helpful for seniors who have a hard time getting around.
Smart home technology also can give family members the ability to electronically keep tabs on their elder loved one when they can’t be there, providing peace of mind.
If you’re interested in adding some smart home products to your house, you’ll need home Wi-Fi installed, and you’ll need either a smartphone, tablet or smart speaker to operate them. To help you get started, here are some different types of smart home devices that are very helpful to older adults, with costs ranging anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred.
Smart speakers: A smart speaker — like the Amazon Echo, Google Assistant or Apple HomePod — can serve as the brains of a smart home, controlling your devices with voice commands or automating them. But as you mentioned in your question, these devices do come with some privacy concerns.
Smart speakers can be hacked (however it’s extremely rare), and they can start recording by mistake after mishearing the device’s “wake word,” but only for a few seconds. Amazon, Google and Apple also have been known to allow employees or outside contractors to listen to recordings stored on their servers to improve device performance in voice recognition.
To help boost your privacy, access the product’s privacy settings that determine how the device records and what happens to those recordings. Or you can simply mute the microphone on your device when it’s not being used and delete interactions that have already been recorded.
Smart lights: To help prevent home falls —– which often are caused by fumbling around a dark room looking for a light switch — smart light bulbs will let you turn on and off the lights by voice command, smartphone or tablet. These bulbs also can change brightness and color and can be programmed to come on and off whenever you want.
Smart plugs: These small units plug into a standard outlet and connect to the internet. That means you can control whatever you plug into them — from a space heater to a coffee maker — using your phone or smart speaker.
Video doorbells: Safety is also a concern for older adults, especially those who live alone. Video doorbells let you see and speak to visitors at the door without having to walk over and open it.
Smart locks: For convenience and safety, smart locks give you keyless entry to your home, provides customized …….