There’s a reason why more seniors are opting to “age-in-place” – to stay in their homes rather than moving to a healthcare community or assisted living facility: because they can. Home automation technology is at the forefront of making aging-in-place a possibility for the current generation of seniors. Smart connected devices that are ideal for the aging-in-place home include everything from: smart lighting; to video cameras connected to doorbells; to motion or activity sensors that can relay information to caregivers. And playing a front and center role – literally – in bringing security, convenience and peace of mind to aging-in-place scenarios are smart locks.

Securing The Opportunity

According to AARP, nearly 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their homes as they age. Even if they start to need assistance with routine daily activities, the vast majority (82 percent) still prefer the aging-in-place option.

There is a tremendous opportunity for smart lock dealers and distributors to secure sales while helping seniors secure their desired aging-in-place scenario. The opportunity begins with the huge market of seniors in the U.S. A 2018 Pew Research study showed that baby boomers  – those aged 52-70 – represent  America’s largest living adult generation from the 1950’s right up until this year. AARP reports that age 65+ adults are expected to outnumber children by 2030; in fact, all boomers and one fifth of the total population will have reached 65 by that year.

Besides the built-in market, there is the fact that, contrary to popular belief, seniors today are far more willing to embrace technology when it can be shown to improve their lives.  Another recent 2018 AARP report shows that many Americans over 50 are  using technology to stay connected with their families and the world around them. The statistics are telling: more than 90% of adults over 50 have a computer or laptop, while almost three-quarters have a smartphone.

Home Is Where The Smart Lock Is

The electronic smart lock, with its central front door location and its ability to provide seniors, caregivers and loved ones complete access to the home, can play an important role in any connected, aging-in-place environment. Ultimately, today’s smart locks provide the most important asset of all in an aging-in-place scenario: information, which translates to both control and peace of mind.   

Early iterations of electronic locks could tell the user whether a door was locked or unlocked, but not by whom; no real information was provided. Today’s smart locks not only provide seniors with the security of being able to lock and unlock the device from any location — in or out of the home — they also allow seniors, as well as their caregivers, to control who enters the home, and when. With many smart locks, they can manage this access using any Web-enabled device. Some locks require a smart hub for this control, while others require only a specialized, downloadable app (although the ones controlled by a hub tend to offer greater functionality. And most can be controlled through any web-enabled device, most notably a smartphone. 

Smart Locks Secure Aging-In-Place

There are primarily five essential roles that an electronic smart lock can play in accommodating aging in place:

  • Provide customized access. Homeowners and caregivers can establish, in advance, who can have access to the home and when they can have it. Then, customized access codes can be provided to any authorized people who might need access to the home and its residents. These can be service technicians, such as plumbers or electricians, or healthcare professionals, whether for a routine visit or an emergency situation. This offers a degree of security and peace of mind not attainable from any other home automation device.
  • Monitor activity. The lock can be viewed as a kind of “sensor” that provides information about what is going on inside a home – who has been granted access and when. They can be programmed to send out emails and texts about who is accessing the home. Of course, family members and caregivers must play a central role in making this work. More specifically, both groups need to monitor these communications to see who is locking or unlocking a door and at what time (and if any short-term exceptions have been made for service providers).
  • Monitor inactivity. Knowing what the elderly resident is not doing is as important as what they are doing. If a smart lock has not been opened for a day or two, caregivers need to recognize this as a red flag – a sign that a well-being check could be in order. Or, if the smart lock is determined to be unlocked when the senior is likely to be asleep, the caregiver can remotely lock the device as a precaution. 
  • Simplify caregiver management. Most smart locks offer keyless entry, which means that there is worry about caregivers losing them or giving them to their friends or colleagues. What’s more, caretakers such as nurses and even housekeepers constantly change over time; it’s simply the nature of these occupations. With smart locks, when caretakers change, codes can be changed as well, so there is never a worry about where any stray keys have gone. Plus, is a caregiver’s schedule changes, the time window of their access code can be changed too.  
  • Create custom scenes. The smart lock delivers the ultimate in convenience, allowing seniors to create custom smart home scenes that activate when they punch in their code – before they even step inside. For example, residents can program their lock so that every time they unlock the door, the hall light goes on, the temperature rises to a set level, and the shades go up. Simply by unlocking the door, the senior creates the environment that makes them most comfortable – and safe.

Education Means Business

Seniors, caregivers, and family members won’t just wake up one day knowing all the capabilities of smart locks in an aging-in-place scenario. It’s a process of education that falls to dealers and installers, who obviously must understand these scenarios themselves. It’s an ongoing process, as more seniors reach the age and physical condition where they can benefit from this smart lock technology. Further, the types of smart locks – as well as their features – are continually growing. By educating seniors and their families about smart lock products and their myriad benefits, you can help seniors continue to enjoy the comforts of home while bringing home increased sales for your business.