Which products are best for the elderly

Smart home for seniors: the best systems at a glance

Marion Rohwedder

For many people, smart technology such as voice assistants and app-based lighting control are nothing more than pleasant convenience. For seniors, on the other hand, these systems can only make independent living at home possible. The whole thing is called “Ambient Assisted Living”, which translates as “environment-assisted living”. We present AAL systems that smartly support you or your loved ones in old age.

Smart home for seniors: the best systems at a glance
Smart home for seniors: the best systems at a glance

AAL: Why is Smart Home particularly suitable for seniors?

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL for short) is increasingly coming into focus, as it provides older people with practical tools for a self-determined life. The smart home relieves seniors in everyday life and creates additional security. Relatives are connected to the system via an app and are notified immediately in an emergency. At the same time, the operation of the smart home is becoming increasingly easier and more intuitive, so that even senior citizens who are far removed from technology can control the systems themselves with a little practice - often even by voice command.

The possibilities of age-appropriate living have not yet been fully exploited in Germany, although they offer great potential to relieve caregivers and family members.

The best AAL systems for age-appropriate living

1. Ring Doorbell 2 as a smart doorbell and emergency button

For the elderly, ringing the doorbell can be stressful. They worry about not getting to the door fast enough or are afraid of opening the door to strangers. With a smart doorbell you can comfortably see who is ringing the doorbell on your tablet or smartphone from your bed or sofa and only open the door to friends and family. The doorbell can be operated with the existing doorbell wiring as well as with a removable battery pack. Relatives can follow activities in front of the door even when they are on the go, which gives them an additional feeling of security.

tip: Attached to the bed, a smart doorbell also functions as an emergency button. Relatives install the appropriate app and are informed by push message when the doorbell is triggered.

rating: 4 out of 5 stars

2. Ekey uno fingerprint for keyless entry

Another hurdle in the entrance area is the key for many elderly people. Anyone who suffers from gout flare-ups or arthritis cannot turn the key on a few days. Other seniors generally have difficulty inserting the key into the lock with shaky hands. Even with a rollator or other walking aids, it is difficult to handle a key. This creates inhibitions about leaving the house in the first place. Thanks to a front door lock with a fingerprint, this hurdle is eliminated. The ekey uno fingerprint can be retrofitted to all common doors. No drilling, mortising or wiring is required for installation. The system records up to 20 users, and access authorizations and time slots can also be set using the ekey uno app. Nursing staff or domestic help can only get into the house in an appropriate time window. There are now many locking systems that can be opened directly via the app. However, the products are mostly Bluetooth-supported, so they consume a relatively large amount of battery and require the safe handling of a smartphone - a smartphone for the elderly can help here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

3. Amazon Echo Show as a remote monitoring system

Amazon Echo is known as a practical information and entertainment device that can be conveniently controlled by voice. The many possible uses that the voice assistant offers for living in old age are less well known. In an emergency, calls can be made on call, for example if you fall and the phone can no longer be reached. Entertainment media such as audio books or lighting control can also be controlled with your voice - Amazon Echo takes a lot of the work out. For seniors living alone, the possible remote monitoring via Amazon Echo Show with a screen makes sense. The drop-in function allows relatives to access the built-in camera and thus gain an insight into the senior citizen's apartment - without the elderly having to actively accept a call or an inquiry.

rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

4. Gigaset Elements and smart care for monitoring senior citizens

The Gigaset senior citizen alarm system is called Gigaset smart care. The Smart Home System was specially developed to help seniors and their relatives achieve greater independence and quality of life. Sensors for controlling and monitoring events such as window and door movements or the activity of the blinds can be set up individually. The smart care app is a tool that family members can use to keep up to date with what is happening at home. It is the information center that provides information on the status reports of the sensors and motion detectors linked in it.

Did the father leave the house at the usual time? Did the grandmother return from the weekly doctor's visit on time? Is it aired regularly and are the doors locked at night? All of this can be checked via the app. The system is flexible and can be set up to suit different life situations. If something deviates from the routine, the system automatically notifies the monitor. If sensors detect abnormalities or if the relative presses the alarm button, the alarm lights up on the smartphone. This enables relatives to react quickly and prevent worse things from happening. In general, “normal” smart home systems such as Telekom Magenta or innogy are also suitable for monitoring senior citizens, but these apps are not specialized in this regard.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

5. Hager stove guard as smart fire protection

The stove is the main cause of fire in your own four walls. Kitchen fires are a particular risk for young families and the elderly. Reasons for this can be forgetting to eat on the stove or simply leaving the stove on with a discarded towel. The stove guard from Hager is manufactured according to DIN EN 50615 and consists of two modules:

  • Sensor unit
  • Control unit

The electrician mounts the sensor unit either on the extractor hood or on the wall. There it registers both temperature increases and movements. Rising temperature and movement mean someone is cooking. However, if there is no movement when the temperature rises, the sensor reports an alarm. The control unit is connected to the stove and receives radio feedback from the sensor. If an alarm is not issued manually within 15 seconds, the power supply will be interrupted. Alternatively or in addition, a smart smoke detector with an app connection can be used, but false alarms are more common here, for example from burnt food.

rating: no rating available

6. SensFloor as smart fall protection for seniors

The SensFloor turns the floor into a touchpad. The SensFloor is one of the first products that was specially developed for Ambient Assisted Living and is therefore ideal for the elderly and physically handicapped people. The textile underlay sensor mat is placed under the floor - it does not matter whether it is a carpet, laminate, vinyl floor or parquet. The SensFloor contains 30 sensors per square meter and is just 2.5 millimeters high.

The SensFloor registers and analyzes every movement. In the event of a fall, the system notifies relatives or nursing staff, depending on the setting. It also reports the aimless wandering of a person with dementia. The floor can be connected to other products such as the call system or the lighting system. For example, the light comes on automatically when the person moves in a corresponding direction. By recognizing foreign movement patterns, the SensFloor is also a smart alarm system that detects intruders.

price: around 100 euros / square meter

7. Duravit SensoWash as a smart shower toilet

Personal hygiene is an important point in ambient assisted living because it is becoming increasingly difficult for many seniors in everyday life. A barrier-free toilet is extremely important so that the honor and dignity of the elderly are preserved. The SensoWash shower toilet relieves the elderly of the necessary tasks and ensures cleanliness. It is a combination of toilet and bidet and therefore also suitable for people who can no longer stand safely. The innovative shower toilet contains, among other things:

  • Bluetooth connection
  • Seat sensor
  • Warm air dryer
  • Seat heating
  • Night light: illuminated indoor pool
  • Descaling function

The SensoWash shower toilet can be easily controlled by remote control. Individual settings are saved in user profiles. The design is discreet and of high quality, so that the toilet in the bathroom is no more noticeable than any other.

rating: no rating available

8. MyHome Axolute as a central switch

Home automation, such as the central switching off of all electrical devices next to the entrance door, is standard in modern smart homes. For seniors, such a subsequent installation is a great relief in everyday life. With one hand you can be sure that every connected device is switched off safely. In addition, different scenarios can be saved: When the resident returns to his house, he can automatically have the way to the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom illuminated. Other devices, such as the heater, a kettle or an electric blanket, can also be connected to these scenes, which relieve the elderly of other tasks.

9. Philips Hue light system

Many elderly injuries are actually caused by tripping. One reason for this is often the dwindling view, especially in unclear lighting conditions. With its Hue lighting system, Philips has developed many useful products for the smart home that are easy to install and illuminate everyday life appropriately at any time of the day. The light scenes can be set with an app depending on the occupation and operated by voice control, for example via Amazon Alexa. Smart motion sensors also complement the Philipps Hue system. Small spots in cupboards and shelves provide an overview and maintain independence. Transitions and stairs can be illuminated indirectly with an elongated LightStrip, so that tripping hazards are always visible.

Tip: A cheaper alternative is the Tradfri system from Ikea. With this system, the functions are constantly being expanded. However, Ikea's lighting system is less compatible with other smart home systems. If you want to integrate the light sensibly in smart home scenes, for example coupled to the shading system, Philips Hue is recommended.

rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

10. M-Guard emergency bracelet for seniors

A useful gadget for seniors living alone or with dementia is an emergency call system. Up to five emergency contacts can be reached immediately at the push of a button. In the event of an alarm, the transmitter in the bracelet can be located with an accuracy of 5 to 20 meters. The location can be viewed in the app. The geofencing function is particularly suitable for seniors with dementia: if the person leaves the specified radius, relatives receive a message on their smartphone.

rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Further support measures in the household

Self-employment is extremely important for seniors. Many do not want to have to rely on outside help in the household either. When cleaning becomes difficult, robot vacuum cleaners regularly ensure that the floor is kept clean. A vacuum / mopping robot even wipes with a damp cloth afterwards. For those who love their garden but can no longer mow the lawn, a robot lawn mower and a smart irrigation system are sensible purchases.

tip: When buying smart home devices for seniors, make sure they have voice control. This often makes the decisive difference whether the resident likes to use the system or is only hesitantly testing it.

AAL companies help set up age-appropriate systems

Those who cannot set up the AAL system themselves for those affected or who want advice on the current options can turn to specialized AAL service providers who create concepts, carry out installations, set up apps and train residents to use the smart technology.

The app-based health monitoring is a logical addition to Ambient Assisted Living. DAS HAUS explains what is already working today.

Conclusion on Ambient Assisted Living: Live independently for a long time in your own four walls

For seniors, living in their own home is a central element of quality of life. Smart products protect seniors from unwanted steps into an old people's home or into an assisted living situation. An age-appropriate smart home gives you a lifetime in your own four walls and at the same time gives seniors and their relatives a feeling of security.

However, the market is still in the expansion phase: While accessibility has long been a matter of course, security systems, remote monitoring and smart emergency systems for senior citizens can only be found sporadically and are therefore sometimes quite cost-intensive.