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Why should older adults learn how smart home devices are connected?

Why should older adults learn how smart home devices are connected?

Monday, May 30, 2022

This article is addressed to those who want to find a meaningful task in older age and are wondering how smart home devices communicate and operate. We will discuss the benefits for older adults who embrace smart home solutions, understanding and buildingthem for a long autonomous life at home. This article will present a project where older adults can learn all that.

In this time of demographic change, people are living longer and better; they desire an autonomous live for as long as possible. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, estimates "those aged 65 years or over will account for 29.5% of the EU-27's population by 2060 (17.5% in 2011)”. It is further estimated that around 20 % of people in the 65-70-year age group will be living alone. In a context of autonomous and independent living in older age, smart devices can play a key role. For example, a monitoring tool around the house can identify emergencies, call emergency assistance, and inform family or friends. Besides, smart devices have many benefits supporting independent living.

They can: 

-Make it easier to compensate for physical frailties such as arthritis, mobility challenges, tremor, or poor hearing;

-Enable people with cognition impairments to function independently;

-Help to alleviate social isolation or loneliness;

-Make the task of caregiving more effective and or easier for the caregiver;

-Improve safety and security

Adding to these benefits is the challenge of finding meaning in life after retirement. Research has shown that seniors, close to or after retirement, have the tendency to feel isolated, excluded, and unfulfilled. However, it is never late to start a new hobby or learn new skills. The best activities for active aging are those that provide stimuli, arouse interest, involve hands-on work and stimulate creative and critical thinking to improve problem-solving skills.

Therefore, it is important to offer older adults tailor-made solutions to cover their daily needs and at the same time guide them to acquire new skills, arouse their interest, and give them a sense of ownership, so they can actively participate in civic life.

The EU Erasmus + project SmartHome4Seniors is designed to provide just that. It is addressed to older adults of 55+ years who have basic ICT skills and are interested in becoming in charge of smart home devices by learning how they actually work. The SmartHome4SENIORS project has as primary objective to assist older adults in their everyday lives by providing guidance to the world of DIY smart home automation solutions. The learning objective of this project is to provide a hands-on approach to make life at home easier. At the end of this project, participants will know how they can utilise smart devices in their home to simplify daily routines, enhance safety and security, and/or control their smart devices remotely.

We aim to guide older adults into the world of DIY smart home automation solutions toease their everyday lives and increase their safety. At the same time, this project will also address their privacy concerns when using smart home devices, as seniors will learn new skills or enhance existing ones in the fields of programming, problem-solving, as well as creative and critical thinking. Older adults will learn how to build and configure DIY electronic kits to create smart home solutions and implement them in a number of rooms in their household. To do so, they will learn how to program and control inputs/outputs from smart sensors and how to adapt them to their specific needs. Participants of this project will engage with:

  • A DIY kit powered by a Raspberry Pi Pico microcontroller, complemented by sensors, electronics and other essential peripherals in order for users to build their own DIY smart home solutions
  • A user manual that explains in detail the components of the Kit and potential applications
  • A guide for using the resources and tools in order to learn about smart home and how certain solutions can be applied in their home
  • A web application that will introduce them to the world of smart home solutions and suggest personalised training paths depending on a set of pre-defined criteria and preferences
  • Informative tutorials in support of the guide to build and use smart home solutions in a hands-on learning approach

If you are 55+ years of age with basic ICT skills and would like to acquire the skills and knowledge that is needed to be in control of your smart home devices get in touch.