One of the founders of our company, Todd Nelson, had an elderly mother who lived alone in a fairly large ranch home. She was somewhat frail, and his sisters tried to get her to move to an assisted living facility.. She was willing to live alone and take the chance that something might go wrong. What really got him started thinking about senior aging in place was his mom's doctor told her she needed to walk from one end of the house to the other and back again. He designed and installed an alarm system to make it possible for her to walk from one end of the house to the other, and back safely.
When she saw what he had done, she asked if there was more. He installed a pressure pad under her mattress and under the cushion on her favorite chair to monitor her sleeping times.If she was not in bed by 9:45, a notification would be sent out to the kids in succession, who would then call her and make sure she was okay. If she was in bed before 7:00 a notification would also be sent, so the kids could call to see if everything was okay. Once she was in bed, if she got up, a rope light on the floor was turned on so she could safely walk to the bathroom. If she hadn't returned to her bed in 15 minutes, an alarm would go off and notify the rescue squad that she had fallen somewhere between the bed and the bathroom.
She was a frail woman who used a walker and was not steady on her feet, so he built a rail around her countertops so she could hang on when using her kitchen without fear of falling. There were other safety features and conveniences installed while he was there as well. This made it possible for her to stay in her home for 10 years longer than his sisters originally thought she would be able.
This has given us the impetus to add senior "aging in place" to our list of services. We understand the physical needs and limitations of seniors and can help design a home using the latest technologies and good, old fashioned, common sense, that is safe, comfortable, and enjoyable
The following are some examples of how, with a slightly different mind set, those same solutions used to enhance the enjoyment of your home can help seniors to be able to remain in their homes.
Lighting Automation Automated lighting can create safer spaces while, at the same time, saving money. The setting of the brightness of some lights to high while others are either left off or dimmed in the same room is called a "scene".
Automation now makes it possible to set as many scenes as desired with a single button push, or motion detector, or even, now, with voice control. The same motion detectors that automatically turn on lights when you walk into a room, will automatically turn off the lights when no motion is detected for a preset amount of time. Motion sensors can also be placed in rooms and hallways so family members can have floor rope lighting activated to guide them to and from the bathroom i the middle of the .night without having to leave the lights on all night.
Window Treatments Shades, blinds, and drapes can be programmed to open or close throughout the day to either keep direct sunlight out of a room during the summer, or opened to allow sunlight and warmth in during the cold winter months. This will lower air conditioning and heating bills, as well as using natural light to keep the interior of the home brighter and safer. The window treatments can also be programmed to close at night for privacy. They can even be programmed to open and close randomly during early evening hours when the homeowners are not home to simulate someone being there
Thermostats By automatically raising or lowering the temperature at different times of the day, air conditioning and heating bills will go down. Having the thermostat and temperature readings ava caregiverailable online, family members can be notified if the indoor temperature is not within set parameters. If an alarm goes off to notify the homeowner of either the home being too cold or too hot, not only will the senior be notified, but so can loved ones and caregivers before a problem situation becomes critical. It could just be an open window, or it might mean a door left open, but it could be an air conditioning or heating malfunction.
Automated Door Locks/Openers Knowing that all your doors are locked at night and while away will give everyone peace of mind.Tying the automated door locks into a home's alarm system will enable all the door locks to be opened in the event of a fire alarm being activated. For those with difficulty turning keys, there are locks that can be opened using a keyfob. A smartphone will enable the unlocking of any enabled door from anywhere. Adding a camera doorbell/ intercom wil give the homeowner the ability to see who is at their front door from anywhere, and the ability to open it for family, friends visiting, or caregivers without actually going to the door.
For those who are either wheelchair bound, or have difficulty opening and closing doors, there are door openers that will
work with, or without, automated door locks, with a variety of ways to enable the opener, including keyfobs, motion detectors, remote controls, ad smartphones. We are currently working on voice activation for both locks and door openers. Voice activation is not quite ready, but it is progressing rapidly. While we have made voice activation work, it is not reliable enough to sell to those who are not adventurous and technically enabled, yet.
Dementia Patient Wandering Prevention A senior citizen, with cognitive difficulties, leaving home without
anyone knowing, is every caregiver's nightmare. We have developed systems to keep this nightmare from happening. They range from a simple audio and video alarm for all the doors in the home, to indoor and outdoor locks to prevent egress without a caregiver. This system needs a professionally installed alarm system to work properly, and is custom designed and installed for each individual home.
Automated Stove and Oven Shutoff Fires occur all too often when people either forget to turn off the stove or oven, or fall asleep. There are several devices on the market that will turn off either a gas or electric range after a preset time or a motion detection system that can be set to shut down after a certain amount of time after the last motion detection. We can arrange with your gas company or electric company to have these installed.
These are samples of ways to keep seniors in their own homes using many of the same solutions you will use for comfort and convenience. We just change a bit of emphasis in thinking to add safety to the others. There are many more solutions to keep seniors in their own homes. We will be glad to consult on those as well.