Voice command technology is an aging-in-place game changer. It’s not possible to over-emphasize how integral this technology will be to aging-in-place design over the course of the next decade.
Why? Imagine a friend comes to visit. When they arrive, they knock on the door waiting to enter the house. What if rather than walking over to answer the door – and moving slowly with sore feet and a walker to get there – you could just stay where you are and unlock the door with the sound of your voice?
Well, we’re no longer imagining.
Voice command technology is set to help seniors live safer, more comfortable lives. It is a sign of incredible hope for those of us with aging parents or who hope to one day age in place ourselves.
So, now the big question: what’s the best way to get started adding voice command technology to your aging-in-place home? I’m here to help you answer that question and get started on your first voice command home tech upgrade.
How to Add Voice Command Technology to Your Aging-in-Place Home
Voice command-capable devices need WiFi and a virtual assistant – also known by most of us as our smart speaker. A smart speaker powered by assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant is the home base for all of your smart technology devices equipped with voice command technology. Think of a smart speaker like a translator. You ask your lights to turn on. Then your smart speaker translates that command, signaling the light’s ‘on’ switch, and your kitchen goes from dark to bright.
It really is that simple. And, once it’s installed, smart technology with voice command will make life much simpler and safer for your parent.
Smart Speakers for Aging in Place
There are several smart speakers out there that can help your parent control their home with the sound of their voice. There are, of course, the gorillas in the room – Amazon, Google and Apple all have their version of the smart speaker. There are also lesser-known but equally as effective alternatives. It really comes down to the speaker your parent is most comfortable with.
Here are my favorite smart speakers for aging in place:
Amazon’s version of the smart speaker lets your parent control every aspect of their home through connections with other smart devices.
Known for sound, Sonos is now synonymous with voice control sound quality throughout the entire home. It features Alexa built-in so you can use it for everything from setting reminders to turning on the lights
Like Sonos, Bose is also known for sound and speaker quality and its smart speaker holds true to its reputation. It has Alexa built-in and, like these other speakers, lets you control all of your voice command devices.
The Best Voice Command Technology Products for Aging-in-Place
There’s no shortage of voice command-enabled products out there to help your parent or loved one live a safer, happier life as they age. The best place to start when you’re ready to make voice command upgrades depends on the type of support your parent needs most.
If mobility is the big challenge, focus on voice command devices that allow your parent to stay put like smart door locks and outdoor cameras so they can see who’s at the door without getting up. Or, if arthritis is making everyday tasks painful, lights that your parent can turn on and off with a simple voice command are the perfect place to start.
When I evaluate a smart device with voice command technology, I look at how that product can make life more comfortable for an older adult. Here are the best products I’ve found broken down by the benefits they provide.
Best Voice Command Products for Mobility
Voice command technology lets your parent control their home and who comes and goes without the need to move around the house. This technology holds so much promise for adults with mobility issues, but security cameras, doorbells and smart locks are where I suggest you start.
The Ring Alarm is just as much for your peace of mind as it is theirs. Your parent should feel safe in their home and know help is second away in an emergency. Ring pairs with your smart speaker, allowing your parent to arm and disarm the alarm using their voice. This is a smart home tech product that I strongly feel every aging-in-place home should have. For adults with mobility issues, it’s especially important. That’s because its voice command capability means your parent can react faster in an emergency and feel fully secure while at home.
Now your parent can see, hear and speak to whoever’s at your door from their phone or home smart speaker. Another great voice command product from Ring in their video doorbell. Especially for adults with mobility issues, seeing who’s at the door without having to get up is much easier, safer and more comfortable.
Opening the door without having to get up to open the door – the August Smart Lock makes aging in place with mobility challenges so much easier and less painful. This lock comes with a WiFi bridge letting it sync up to an Alexa smart speaker instantly.
Best Voice Command Products for Arthritis
In a perfect world, an aging-in-place home would go completely hands-free and remove arthritis pain altogether. The good news is that we’re getting closer and more voice command-enabled products are coming to market every day. Use voice command technology to reduce the reoccurring pain your parent feels when doing life’s unavoidable tasks. I suggest starting with the kitchen faucet, lighting, and thermostat.
The day has come where water flows from our faucets on command. It’s not a miracle, it’s Delta doing its thing yet again and bringing innovative aging-in-place faucet technology to market. This Delta Trinsic faucet includes the company’s VoiceIQ technology, meaning that with help from Alexa or Google Assistant, your parent can place their hands under the sink and tell the faucet to turn on and off, pain-free.
Make it easy and painless to turn the lights on and off with this set of Gosund smart light switches. Voice command light switches completely eliminate the need to flip a switch and agitate arthritis pain. I place multiple sets around the house, connecting the system for complete voice control. Your parent can turn lights on in the entire house or only light specific rooms.
A thermostat traditionally forces you to push small buttons to adjust the temperature. When you have arthritis, even something like inching the thermostat up a few degrees can cause a lot of joint pain. Smart thermostats with voice command technology are perfect solutions, making it easy and painless to set the house to the perfect temperature. Google Nest has created an easy-to-use solution, letting you set your preferred temperature using voice command.
Best Voice Command Products for Poor Eyesight
Aging-in-place lighting should be well planned across your parent’s entire home. Aging eyes lose the ability to see contrast and judge depth, and need brighter light than you or I do. If your parent’s home doesn’t have the right balance of ambient and task lighting to eliminate shadows and keep the whole house bright, you need to add lots of light.
For older adults with poor eyesight, prioritize your lighting upgrade. I suggest adding a series of ambient and task lighting both inside and outdoors with recessed, task and floodlights.
These lights just about have it all for the aging-in-place home. Recessed lighting can create both ambient and task lighting, depending on where they’re installed. That means that if your parent’s eyesight requires bright ambient light that fills up the entire room, or targeted task lighting like over the top of the kitchen island, these lights can do the job. They’re dimmable, easy-to-install, and allow your parent to instantly brighten up an entire room with one command of their voice.
With this smart task light, your parent can sit down at a desk while turning the lamp on with voice command. The light works with Alexa and Google Assistant to turn on and off and adjust brightness levels. This LED desk lamp from OttLite gives your parent all of the bright light they need without any of the pain of turning a manual switch.
Outdoor light is sometimes an afterthought when planning an aging-in-place home renovation. But, it’s just as important as indoor light when your parents are coming home at night or walking up a poorly lit walkway. These smart bulbs from Geeni cast 1000 lumens of light outside of your parent’s home. They’ll be able to easily find their way and avoid anything laying on the ground that could cause them to trip and fall. They can also control the floodlight’s brightness through the Geeni app which connects to your smart speaker.
Best Voice Command Products for Dementia
For older adults with dementia or any other cognitive issues that impact memory, the virtual assistant or smart speaker itself is an incredible voice command device that can make a huge difference in an adult’s ability to age in place safely.
One of the biggest reasons – voice-generated reminders.
Remembering to take medicine isn’t easy, especially if memory is a challenge. An Alexa or Google Assistant lets you set reminders with simple voice commands. The ability to say ‘Alexa, remind me to take my medicine at 9:00 pm tonight’ may be the difference between your parent remembering to take medication or accidentally missing a dose.
A smart speaker can also spill out answers to questions on a whim – another reason they’re becoming a critical tool for adults with cognitive challenges. Even adults without dementia can start to experience memory loss, so a smart speaker becomes a comforting tool when you need a little reminder.
Voice Command Technology is Changing the Game for Aging-in-Place
I have no doubt that my list of favorite voice command products for the aging-in-place home will keep growing. It feels as if every day a new, incredible voice command product comes to market with the potential to help older adults live at home longer and do so safely.
If your parent doesn’t already own a smart speaker, make that purchase now. Then, take this weekend to get their home decked out with a few voice command tech devices. I promise you’ll make their lives immediately easier and more comfortable.
As you add voice command capabilities to your aging-in-place home, let me know how I can help. Use the comments section below to send your questions my way.
Good luck with your next aging-in-place home project!