Those of you who are familiar with this series will know how a smart home can make your home a safer place to live. If you have a loved with that suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, this becomes especially useful.

Each of our previous “Why a Smart Home is a Safe Home” articles offer valuable information that can keep your loved ones safe and secure. While these tools can never replace expert and familial care, they can take some of the pressure off your shoulders.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a smart home, here’s a quick overview. A smart home is a system of interlinking devices that can be used to automate or control aspects of your home such as your thermostat, lights, appliances, windows, doors, and locks. These are all done with the goal of making your home fit your needs like a glove.

Most smart home systems include a hub and a voice-control device. A hub is used to organize your smart home devices into a single app. This allows you to control them together, instead of controlling each device separately. On the other hand, voice-control device, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, can control other devices with your voice. You can make phone calls, turn off the lights, and even lock the doors!

If you have a family member suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, these devices can help.

Make a Safer Home

One of the most important ways you can give care to your loved one is by making the home as safe as possible. You can do this is by making the home dementia-friendly, but a smart home can help you take it a step further. Smart locks, which you control remotely, can keep your loved ones out of rooms or areas that can be dangerous. For example, stairs may be hazardous, so locking doors to that area of the home may be wise. Locking access to gun cabinets or the kitchen, where a stove top or cleaning chemicals can be dangerous, is also effective.

For example, you may want to keep your loved one from using the stove when you’re not home. By plugging it into a smart outlet, you can switch that device to the ‘off’ setting and keep it there when you leave the home.

If you’re unable or don’t want to lock “off-limits” areas, you can also use smart technology to control dangerous appliances or electronics. One way you can do this is by utilizing smart outlets which allow you to control power to whatever is plugged into them.

For example, you may want to keep your loved one from using the stove when you’re not home. By plugging it into a smart outlet, you can switch that device to the ‘off’ setting and keep it there when you leave the home. This will keep them from being able to turn it on. You can do this for any electronic that you deem unsafe for your loved one.

You can also use a smart home to be alerted of emergencies in the home, such as a fall or a spill which can be deadly for seniors. To account for these, you can get a safety device like the classic Life Alert, or one of its alternatives. You can also buy a smartwatch, which provides many of the same services with a techier focus. These can be used to call for help in emergency situations, and many even come with fall sensors. Additionally, some home-monitoring devices will send updates to your phone or email if there’s a fire, flooding, or carbon monoxide issues.

Keep an Eye on Your Loved One

Smart homes are valuable to caregivers because they allow you to keep a discreet eye on your loved one without being overly intrusive. For many, it’s important to provide a sense of independence while keeping them safe. For one, you can set up a series of door monitors to send you a notification when a door is opened. This will allow you to be aware if your loved one is in a room they shouldn’t be (if you don’t want to lock them out of rooms) or if they go outside. Some health monitoring devices and smartwatches also come with GPS-tracking, which can help you ensure your loved one doesn’t get lost.

Door monitors allow you to be aware if your loved one is in a room they shouldn’t be (if you don’t want to lock them out of rooms) or if they go outside.

Many smart home systems also allow you to set up cameras that you can use to check in on your loved one. Obviously, this should only be done with their consent, since this represents the largest invasion of their privacy. If they’re OK with it, you can combine a series of door and appliance monitors and cameras to create a complete home safety monitoring system.

Keep Them Healthier and Happier

Finally, a smart home can be useful in keeping a senior mentally active, which is especially beneficial for seniors with dementia. With a voice-controlled device, your loved one has access to a near-unlimited supply of music, trivia, brain teaser games, and audiobooks (some extra fees may apply). Keeping active is essential for staying mentally sharp and can aid seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Smart home devices can also provide more possibilities for communication, which can decrease their likelihood of isolation.

With a voice-controlled device, your loved one has access to a near-unlimited supply of music, trivia, brain teaser games, and audiobooks (some extra fees may apply).

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Caregiving for a loved one with dementia can be heartbreaking and difficult. Any advantage or help you can find can make a difference, not only for them, but for you as well. A smart home can not only help you monitor and protect your family member, but it also can enrich their lives.

Further Reading

Medicareful Living — Why a Smart Home is a Safe Home: Emergencies
Medicareful Living — Why a Smart Home is a Safe Home: Health Monitoring
Medicareful Living — Why a Smart Home is a Safe Home: Home Security