Smart home technology may have a reputation for its ease, convenience and entertainment, but a significant benefit is the very real difference it can make to maintaining people’s independence if they have a disability or need care.

Here is how smart home technology assists independent living.

Overview

Whether it’s decreased vision, Alzheimer’s disease or your mobility is impacted, living with a disability poses unique challenges within the home environment.

Daily functions that are simple to others, like answering the door, reading a book or maintaining security, can prove more difficult or elicit a sense of anxiety.

This is where smart home technology can assist, providing simple features to automate your home environment and cater to specific needs. Ultimately they can assist in offering peace of mind, increased and automatic communication with family members, and facilitate independence within the home.

Many smart home features can be retrofitted to existing properties without the need for extensive rewiring or expensive renovations, making them an ideal way to improve the living environment for people living with a disability.

These are the areas where smart home technology can assist…

Mobility

Limited mobility can affect even the most innocuous areas of life, from getting up at night to turn off lights, to answering the front door or opening the garage. All these features and more can be automated as part of the smart home, allowing occupants to control features via voice command, automatic programming or at the touch of a remote button.

For example, answering the front door can be as simple as checking a mobile phone or tablet to see who’s knocking, speak to them if required, and then permit them to gain entry if you choose. 

Lighting can be activated at voice command, set to turn off at a specific time of the day or switched off with the touch of a remote control, mobile phone or tablet.

Meanwhile, this convenience extends even further when combined with other smart home appliances, for example you can start the oven or turn it off at the touch of a button, lock a door, run climate control or turn on music.

Sensory disabilities

Smart home technology can also assist when it comes to sensory disabilities like loss of hearing and vision as CNET explains: 

“First, Sophie Godek tried to read books with a magnifying glass. Then, she turned to a tablet to make the words on her e-books larger. Eventually, she couldn’t even see that. The 95-year-old was losing her sight, and with it, one of her favorite hobbies.”

Her son sought to help, turning to technology and using Amazon Echo to assist. Ms Godek would prompt Echo via voice command for an audio book and the device would happily oblige.

Meanwhile, for the hearing impaired, smart technology also boasts a wealth of features in an often silent world, solving problems like alerting residents to danger through lighting, rather than audio alarms. 

Intellectual disability

For those with intellectual disability there are also a wealth of automated features designed to offer independence. 

Divine, an online community for people with a disability notes: “The exploration of smart house technology has only just begun. Such technology should enable more people with disabilities to live independently in their own homes”.

Examples they cite include:

  • ‘Leave home’ functions that automate procedures for exiting a house such as shutting blinds, turning off lights and cooling, and locking doors on doors on exit – all through the touch of an icon on a smart phone.
  • Room sensors that detect movement, switching on lights when a person enters a room, or switching on a light when someone gets out of bed. There’s even smart carpet underlay that recognises when a person is walking or lying down, offering the opportunity to alert family and friends if someone has fallen and can’t get up.

Caring from afar

All these factors allow residents to stay within their own home, yet provide the security of help at hand. Meanwhile, they offer the opportunity to provide assistance from afar. 

The smart home provides family with the chance to ensure their loved one is safe and secure even from far away.

A simple illustration is voice activated phone for those who have fallen and can’t get up but the future will extend these capabilities to a whole new realm, as Divine goes on to explain.

“Data collected from sensors and appliances could enable the house to know the routine of a resident,” they continue. “If their routine changes drastically, like someone with dementia leaves the front door open at 2am, the smart house could contact their family or a 24-hour care service.”

Smart home technology is not just gadgetry and entertainment, it offers the very real opportunity to impact people’s lives. It can be utilised by people with a disability in new ways to ensure their safety, comfort and independent living. 

About Lera

Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.

We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs. You can learn more about transforming your house into a smart home here, or contact us directly for further advice.