Posted in on April 10, 2018

Voice-Activated Technology and 55+ and Senior Living Communities

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Homekit: Voice-activated technology and smart home devices are on the rise. In fact, Gartner Research predicts the typical home could contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022. With them come a myriad of applications to aid older adults in remaining independent — and opportunities for senior housing, too. How can active adult 55+ communities and senior living communities capitalize on the growing smart home trend?

55+ Communities: Smart Home Design and Remodeling

For active adult builders and contractors, voice-activated technology fits in seamlessly with the trend toward universal design and aging-in-place remodeling. Voice-enabled lighting, locks and temperature controls complement design features such as wider hallways, non-slip surfaces and one-story living. All of these features are designed to create a frictionless environment for people of any age or ability. A couple of years ago, we reported that 75% of Baby Boomers were not prepared to age in their homes. The latest HomeAdvisor Aging in Place Report indicates attitudes may be changing: 3 out of 5 adults ages 55-75 watched a loved one struggle, which is motivating them to take action. These are the top 20 most popular projects for those 55-75 and 75+, per the report. (Note the number of voice-activated technology and smart home devices!)

Top 20 most popular home projects for 55+ and 75+ homeowners, including voice-activated technology and other smart tech

In addition, a recent survey found that 65 percent of Baby Boomers would pay more for smart home technology. The leading reason for smart home tech adoption? Safety and security, says Accenture: 83 percent of consumers will pay a premium for a smart home device that offers safety.

“What you’re really marketing is peace of mind. These devices not only provide another way to make people’s daily lives easier, but they’re also cost-effective and attractive to younger buyers who are looking for features that are both functional and aesthetically appealing,” says Sr. Client Services Director Beth Mickey. She recently became a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist, advising her clients on the latest best practices in universal design. “I encourage my clients to incorporate marketable strategies that can grow with home buyers and meet several wants and needs — most importantly, what will help make life easier as needs evolve.”

Senior Living: Enhanced Amenities and Services

For senior living communities, intuitively and seamlessly designing voice-activated technology into a community makes it easy for prospects to picture themselves living independently for years to come. They can manage lists and medications with the help of automated reminders; control the lights, temperature and locks by simply speaking aloud; and even order household goods, send messages to family, summon a ride or search for information online without much need for technological know-how. Demonstrating the ease of integrated technology on tours through model units can help show how attainable use really is. Research supports the benefits, too. In a pilot program conducted by Front Porch, 100% of participants reported that Amazon’s Echo made their lives easier, and 75% used it to control thermostats and lighting systems in their units at least once per day, says a report in Senior Housing News.

Beyond independent living, voice-activated technology may have helpful applications in assisted living and nursing care, too. Senior Housing News points out:

[while] most smart devices — lights, locks, televisions, tablets and phones — currently exist to enhance residents’ quality of life, they could play a role in clinical data collection, too. For example, smart toilets might soon track how many times a resident gets up to use the bathroom at night.”

Concerned family members or doctors might be alerted to specific data and check in from afar, which could be a unique selling point and expand the market area.

Beyond Voice-Activated Technology: Top 10 Smart Devices Among 50+ Consumers

Ready to start marketing your community on the leading-edge of technology? Here are the top 10 smart home technology products for those ages 50+ identified by The Hartford and MIT AgeLab:

  1. Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  2. Wireless doorbell cameras
  3. Keyless entry
  4. Automatic lighting
  5. Smart water shut off valves
  6. Smart home security systems
  7. Smart outlets/plugs
  8. Smart thermostats
  9. Water and/or mold monitoring sensors
  10. Smart window blinds

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