Gift Shopping for an Elder? Consider These Suggestions from a Top Aging-in-Place Expert  

technologyLisa Cini Helps Seniors Age-in-Place with Technology and Design Modifications

More and more seniors are seeking to age in place, making it important for them to have the resources they need to thrive in their own home. Caregivers and loved ones often need to implement home modifications and introduce certain technology to support their senior loved ones and to ensure that they can function independently from day to day.

Lisa Cini is an award-winning interior designer, aging expert, and author of three books, BOOM: The Baby Boomers Guide to Leveraging Technology so that you can Preserve Your Independent Lifestyle & ThriveThe Future is Here: Senior Living Re-imagined; and Hive, The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living: How Our Family Makes it Work. She has worked on a number of projects aimed at helping aging adults and multigenerational families age-in-place, transforming their households into safe spaces where seniors can have the best quality of life.

We’ve Learned a Lot About Technology for Independent Living During COVID

Cini’s biggest tip for seniors hoping to age in place is to embrace technology. If we learned anything from the pandemic, it’s how many services can be done remotely through an app — from grocery delivery and restaurant food delivery to on-site car washing and laundry. For those who are no longer able to drive, you can request an Uber through your phone and have just about anything you need delivered to your front door.

Zoom and Facetime have helped us to feel more connected to our loved ones, and using these apps while aging in place can benefit seniors who want to connect with others, or even go to a meeting or doctor’s appointment. There have also been major upgrades in medical technology in recent years, Cini says, such as wearables that alert loved ones if your blood sugar drops, for example, or if you wake often during the night. Lastly, certain technology and smart house features, such as Alexa, thermostats, and lighting fixtures, work with your Wi-Fi connection.

Lisa Cini recently shared her top high-tech and design gift recommendations for aging adults to enable independent living and help them “move from fear to freedom.” A sampling is included on the list below. According to Cini, “(t)he power of technology and design can improve the lives of seniors allowing them to live on their own terms, without fear, and engage in life more purposefully.”

Top Tech Gifts for Seniors in 2022

Below are some of the top technology apps, items, and services that can help seniors age in place, according to Cini and other sources. (As always, we do not make money from any of these links; these are just hopefully helpful suggestions that you can explore, and find similar apps or items, on your own.)

  • Give yourself or your loved one peace of mind with the Lively service, which offers hands-free access to live Urgent Response Agents, 24/7. According to the website, “(w)hether you smell a gas leak, are experiencing chest pains or simply hear a strange noise outside, just say ‘Alexa, call for help’ and you’ll be connected to the Lively Response Team. And even if you’re hesitant to call 911, our Agents are ready to help in any situation and can even call 911 on your behalf.”
  • The Hapbee Smart Sleep Pad helps you fall asleep faster, stay asleep all night, and improve your REM slow wave sleep, naturally with bio-stream technology as tiny magnetic songs stimulate bio-receptors. Hapbee is being used by U.S. active and retired military, professional athletes, and wellness practitioners who want to sleep and focus better without taking drugs or supplements.
  • ElliQ, a robot roommate is a friendly little companion robot that sits on a base next to a tablet and comes to life when you engage with it — either by saying “her” name or just by your physical presence in the room. “She” speaks in natural, conversational language — kind of like a cross between Siri and Wall-E — and is billed as the first “digital care companion designed specifically for those aged 65+.”
  • Stay in the Loop. An easy-to-use personal Wi-Fi display that keeps you connected with friends and family around the world through video chatting, and photo sharing.
  • Sweet Dreams with Sleep Well Tinnitus Masker- Sound Oasis. Get a good night’s rest with this top-rated sound machine with six preprogrammed nature sounds that increase sleep quality by blocking out any distracting noises. There are, of course, dozens of other sound machines available, as well as “white noise” apps on your smart device, some of which are available for free. The bigger “buzz” these days is about brown noise, which is considered by millions of people to be more soothing and relaxing than white noise. The “brown” in brown noise is not a color, but a reference to sound that mimics “Brownian motion,” the movement of particles such as pollen in water, identified by the botanist Robert Brown in 1827. Brown noise is similar to the sound of white noise (all the audible frequencies simultaneously) but with the low frequency notes augmented and the less pleasant high frequency notes turned down, counteracting the human ear’s natural tendency to hear higher frequencies louder.
  • Stay clean with the top-rated Alpha Bidet Toilet Seat — an affordable luxury toilet seat bidet with a built-in tankless heater that needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet. If you haven’t yet tried a toilet seat bidet, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones. There are dozens if not hundreds available on Amazon for prices starting below $25. The simple ones are not heated so they do not need to plug into the wall. Fancier ones are heated and have dryers built in (completely eliminating the need for toilet paper) making the entire cleaning and drying experience extremely easy and hygienic for everyone, especially people with mobility restrictions.
  • Hero, a proactive pill dispenser, is a countertop device about the size of a small coffee maker. It stores, sorts, and dispenses up to a 90-day supply of 10 different medications. You can pour pills into a cartridge and slide it into the dispenser without having to count or sort anything — it’s all automatic. The companion app sends alerts when it’s time to take a dose and provides real-time adherence data to caregivers and families looking after their loved ones.
  • LifeStation SidekickMobile Medical Alert is the next gen of “I’ve fallen and can’t get up!” Falls and accidents, either at home or on the go, are a huge problem for older adults trying to live independent lives. One in four older adults fall each year, according to the CDC, making falls the leading cause of injury-related death among older adults in the U.S. That’s an alarming number, but personal medical devices such as these can help.
  • The Human Charger-Valkee Light Therapy Device fits in your pocket and wards off those winter blues providing 12 minutes of needed sunlight daily.
  • The Motion-Sensor LED Plug-In Night Lights the way to keep your loved ones safe from trips and spills during the night and can be placed anywhere in the home where extra light is needed.
  • A bath time and bedtime two-in-one Bamboo Caddy serves as a bath tray for a long soak in the tub or as a convenient laptop desk in bed.
  • The Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier keeps the air at optimal moisture levels to ward off colds and reduce snoring during dry winter months.
  • The Robot Mop does all the work for you even in those hard-to-reach places
  • Papa is an online service that calls itself “the first curated platform of companionship and support for older adults and families.” The company works directly with insurance providers and employers to help ease the burden on someone whose spouse or aging loved ones might need extra care. They call the caregivers “Papa Pals,” which is a network of people vetted, trained and trusted to bring companionship and everyday support to the underserved and overwhelmed. The Pals make anywhere from $20-$25 per hour, and the program is available in all 50 states.
  • The MOES Smart Talking Frypan offers seniors and people with disabilities who love to cook an easy-to-read digital display, voice announcer, and temperature alarm.
  • The Voice Controlled Reminder Clock helps your loved ones remember their medication, appointments, bill payments, tasks — anything, really — without touching any buttons!

How Do You Know What Technology You Need?

Cini says that one way to get a grasp of the types of technology and modifications you might need in your home is to visit senior living facilities, even if you don’t think you want to live there. Cini says this is a great way to see what kinds of layouts and products are available to seniors in a facility engineered specifically for them. You might notice that the toilets are higher in the bathrooms or that the light fixtures operate by touch. The technology might impress you and get your gears turning for improvements to your own home.

Cini says the added benefit of visiting these facilities is that you’ll be able to see the alternatives in case your plan to age at home goes wrong. “Something could happen, and you could break a hip, and you’ve already done the investigation, and you could go there for a respite and not have to worry about doing it in crisis mode,” she says. “It’s like not going to the grocery store when you’re hungry. It’s a lot easier to highlight what you like and don’t like [at a senior living facility] when you’re not scared.”

Despite the Technology, Aging in Place Is Not for Everyone

According to Cini, “(t)here are a lot of people at home with incredible health issues and might be better off at a place where there was a gym and a physical therapist instead of staying home watching TV and getting Meals on Wheels delivered.” If you’re the kind of person who enjoys social interaction and is craving community, senior living can offer those things as well.

Cini knows of two best friends who chose to move into a retirement home together because they to live in a place where their meals were prepared for them. For others, it’s not just about convenience, it’s about necessity. This is when staying at home is not enough and more assistance is needed, making assisted living or nursing home care a safer environment for the person.

When Technology Is Not Enough to Make Aging in Place the Best Option

Most people want to stay in their home for as long as possible, and technology is certainly helpful in that regard. However, if despite the technology that is available, you or a loved one cannot live independently and are showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time to consider other alternatives.

Whether the outcome is in-home care, an assisted living community, or a nursing home, it is always wise to plan ahead. Life Care Planning and Medicaid Asset Protection is the process of protecting assets from having to be spent down in connection with receiving nursing home level care at home, or going into an assisted living community or nursing home, while helping ensure that you and your loved ones get the best possible care and maintain the highest possible quality of life. Please contact us whenever you’re ready to make an appointment for an initial consultation:

Elder Care Attorney Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Elder Care Attorney Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Elder Care Attorney Rockville: 301-519-8041
Elder Care Attorney DC: 202-587-2797

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.