Aging population to drive smart home technologies

Major changes in the demographic profile of the United States are underway, and these changes are expected to accelerate over the coming decades. The number of households aged 65 and over increased by 38% between 2010 and 2020. In contrast, households aged under 65 increased by only 1%. Meanwhile, in less than a decade, the year 2030 will mark a demographic turning point for the United States. By then, all baby boomers will be over 65, increasing the number of older adults.

However, demographics vary greatly by region. Thus, some regions are expected to experience faster aging than other regions. Using US Census data, it’s interesting to see the population of older adults growing in one of the younger states. In Alaska, the number of households aged 65 and older has increased by more than 80% over the past decade. Delaware, Nevada, Arizona and Idaho followed, with senior households increasing by 60% on average. Thus, the population will age faster in these regions because the rate of increase is much stronger and much higher compared to the rest of the United States. Additionally, Florida, Hawaii, and West Virginia are among the states with the highest concentration of senior households. In these states, more than 33% of households are 65 and older.

With an aging population comes a growing need for homes with age-friendly features. As people age, their physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities decline dramatically. After reviewing the related literature, the research showed that smart home technologies and related services can help seniors ease their daily tasks and improve their overall quality of life. While smart home technology was initially focused on increasing security and saving energy, its scope has been gradually changed to improve the overall quality of life. Specifically, smart homes are often used to help the elderly and disabled.

With the rapid development of technology, many people already have lights, heating systems and other devices in their homes that can be managed or controlled with the push of a button from their smartphone. A smart home is basically a household that uses this technology. According to the 2021 National Association of Realtors’ Home Buyers and Sellers Survey, 20% of home buyers purchased a new home instead of a home they previously owned due to smart home features and green/energy efficiency.

For seniors, according to a study by The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab, 51% of homeowners aged 50 and over either already have smart home technology or are interested in acquiring it. Of those who don’t currently have smart home technology but are considering or interested in buying it, about half (49%) are willing to spend between $101 and $500 on it over the course of a given year. Although users of smart home technologies can benefit in a variety of ways, the top three benefits for seniors were: improving safety/security, saving energy, and making everyday life easier/more convenient . Thus, according to the study, the “top 10 smart technologies” for adults are:

  1. Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  2. Wireless doorbell cameras
  3. Keyless Entry
  4. Automatic lighting
  5. Smart water shut-off valves
  6. Smart home security systems
  7. Smart sockets/plugs
  8. Smart Thermostats
  9. Water and/or mold monitoring sensors
  10. Smart blinds

Nevertheless, smart home technologies have even more benefits, especially for households with specific health conditions. Emerging technologies such as smart beds and smart fall detection systems may make aging in place a safer and more viable option for these people. For example, smart beds allow people with health conditions to customize their bed to meet their needs.

There is no doubt that technology has changed the way we live our lives. Technology has made life much easier and it has made homes more comfortable and convenient to live in. While most seniors have a strong desire to age in place, the number of seniors in place will also increase as the senior population continues to grow over the next decade. Smart home technologies have the potential to play an important role in enabling seniors to age in place.

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