20 things from Best Buy that make aging in place easier
These smart devices will keep you connected and safe
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I’ll admit, I didn’t hear the phrase “aging in place” until late last year when I coached a TED talk about the importance of it. The speaker I worked with is a geriatric and orthopedic trauma surgeon (I know, what a mouthful) who taught me about the obstacles people face within their own homes. She was concerned mainly about smoke alarms and grab bars, and her data was compelling. What stuck out with me most, though, is that we’re all susceptible to these dangers. If you fall and need to have surgery on your leg, your mobility is impacted.
The CDC describes the notion of “aging in place” as "the ability to live in one's own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level." And it’s fair to say that many homes are not well-equipped for people to remain there safely as they age—but with the right products, they can be.
We rounded up 20 smart devices that can improve the safety and mobility throughout your home, or the home of someone you care about. Bonus points—these devices are also incredibly helpful for people living with disabilities. Some devices connect devices in the home so they can be managed from one device, likely a smartphone, without the person having to move around. We also listed security systems and safety devices that automatically alert people of threats. And we also rounded up a few electronics to streamline entertainment and livelihood so people can continue to enjoy the things they love for a long time, from their favorite shows to chats with long-distance family members.
1. Extra routers that strengthen the home's WiFi connection
The Eero three-pack of mesh connectivity routers are a perfect addition to any home. They strengthen the WiFi signals so that even the farthest rooms from the modem get strong, stable signals. Writer Camryn Rabideau swears by her Eero Wifi system, and our test lab agreed, choosing this model as the best affordable mesh Wi-Fi system.
The Eero mesh models blend in on bookshelves among trinkets and photos or on surfaces in a nursery or office. A huge bonus is that they’re wireless, so there's no need to complicate any cord situations they're likely already hiding. All three routers can be controlled from a single app on smartphones too! These are ideal for most homes and are especially relevant if anyone in a home needs to be quarantined on their own.
2. This smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm to improve home safety
The Nest Protect alarm is a reliable alternative to battery-operated smoke alarms. It's our favorite smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. It can be hardwired into a home (if available) and will provide battery status updates (it has an emergency battery back-up). When the alarm sounds, it speaks in a clear human voice and details the location of the smoke/gas, which is important for anyone who may wake up confused or scared.
By connecting the alarm to its smartphone app, users can check the battery status, view the previous 10 days of history, and turn the alarm off. The latter is extremely useful to those with mobility limitations or who can’t easily get to the ceiling to turn a typical alarm off.
3. This smart light switch that can be controlled from a phone
This smart light switch, an inexpensive and simple alternative, connects a home’s lighting to its WiFi network, allowing users to turn your lights on and off from their phones.
It can be used to dim the lights while watching television or set up a program that will turn the lights on and off at set times—which is useful if people aren’t fully mobile or they're away on vacation and want their homes to look busy. The lights can also be controlled with Alexa or Siri, so it’s hands-free.
4. This smart, keyless lock system for easy home entry
As someone who lives in a home with a smart lock, I can fully recommend it. It’s convenient because you never have to search for your keys when carrying several grocery bags, you can get into your home quickly, and you don’t have to worry about losing your keys.
The Schlage Encode Smart WiFi Deadbolt goes a step further: it allows you to create custom passcodes for nannies, friends, family, and even Amazon delivery team members. It's our choice for the best smart lock available right now.
5. A robot vacuum that can be controlled with a smartphone
That's right—they make smart robot vacuums. Unlike traditional robot vacuums, smart models may come equipped with cameras and voice functionality that are ideal for people who enjoy having connected homes. But when it comes to helping someone who's aging in place, we think it doesn't get much better than the iRobot Roomba i7+.
This is the best robot vacuum you can buy, and while it didn't take the top spot on our roundup of smart models, its smart functionality is perfect for those who want ease-of-use paired with smart functionality. On top of an impressive cleaning performance, this model will also self-empty, which makes you don't have to take anything apart to clean the machine.
6. This smart plug that turns everything into a WiFi-enabled device
As more and more devices come with Bluetooth compatibility, there are still a few things in my house I wish I could link to WiFi or voice control. Enter the Eufy Smart Plug!
By simply plugging electronic devices into this adapter before plugging it into the wall, users convert it to a smart device. They can then control the device from an app on their phone, including Google Assistant or Alexa from Amazon. It’s perfect for coffee makers, floor lamps with inconvenient switches, record players, and Christmas trees. This model is our choice for the best affordable smart plug you can buy.
7. This home security system to provide peace of mind
The Ring Security System combines all home alarms into one app. The video monitors and alarms are fully customizable, so people can detect when doors and windows open or even sense motion outside their homes, which helps to keep them safe. The app has a built-in “Panic Mode” so users can alert emergency services immediately if needed.
The entire kit—a base station, keypad, motion sensor, contact sensor, and range extender—is able to connect to a home’s Amazon Alexa device. Users only need to speak which mode they'd like to set your home at: away, home, or disarmed.
8. This inexpensive garage door hub
There were plenty of times in my childhood where my parents parked the car in the driveway instead of the garage because they lost the opener button that was supposed to be clipped to the visor. I wish I could go back in time and gift them the MyQ Smart Garage Hub. The hub connects to a home’s WiFi so it’s always powered. So, if users have their phones on hand, they can open or close the doors.
In addition to integrating with the phone app, the Smart Garage Hub can link to home security systems containing both cameras or alarms. Installing the Hub is easy, and it quickly provides peace of mind since users can verify that their homes are secure before going to bed (or after they've left for work in the morning). The hub will seamlessly connect to door openers made after 1993. My favorite feature is that users can set a time for the doors to open or close, so it’s one less task they need to check off as they move throughout their day.
9. This sleek and smart thermostat that allows easy control
It’s time to say goodbye to your analog thermostat. I’ve been bugging my landlord for a smart thermostat like the Emerson Sensi for the last two years. Even poorly insulated homes (like mine) can become more Earth-friendly. The Emerson Sensi thermostat is WiFi-enabled, so users can adjust the heat or air to their needs right from their phone.
What’s even cooler is that the Sensi thermostat can be connected to your smart home devices including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The system also uses geofencing technology to recognize when users are away from their homes, which allows the thermostat to automatically adjust temperatures accordingly to save money.
10. This mid-size Bose speaker ideal for playing music
The Bose Home Speaker 300 makes having crisp sound throughout the house easy. The speaker works with Alexa and Google Assistant, and it's our favorite smart speaker you can get on the market today. Our tester loved this model so much, she couldn't find any negatives—and that's really saying something.
11. This dimmable light strip to improve lighting in hard-to-see places
These light strips are over six feet each, and they’re perfect for adding a soft glow to a room or lighting dim surfaces like countertops, stairwells, or bathrooms. The lights are dimmable, so they’re softer than installing ceiling lights, and they have multiple color settings that can be controlled from Amazon or Google home devices.
The lights can be used for helpful wayfinding during the night, and they’re flexible enough to bend to fit along railings or walkways. Users can also sync them to a home's entertainment system for an at-home light show.
12. An Echo Dot for full connectivity at home
Having an in-home smart assistant is like leveling up in a video game. I save time every day by asking Alexa quick questions like “What’s the weather for today?”; “How old is Jon Hamm?"; and “How many tablespoons are in ¼ cup?” The Echo Dot is a fully functioning Amazon device, so users can reorder their favorite household essentials, hear full news reports, and control most of the other smart devices in their homes. The Dot is perfect for bookshelves, kitchen counters, and nightstands because it’s small and sleek.
13. A reliable router to ensure at-home WiFi is stable
A trusty router is a necessity, especially while people are spending more time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More companies are holding video calls, schools have shifted to online learning, and streaming services fill the time in between. Routers are essential devices, especially in homes that are heavily reliant on smart technology.
The NETGEAR router has three antennas that provide faster WiFi and extended wireless coverage throughout the home. The router is also compatible with Amazon’s Echo and Alexa devices so users can adjust the WiFi by voice control.
14. These wireless headphones ideal for calls and TV watching
Sony has long been a household favorite. Their wireless headphones are a dream for travelers, music lovers, and anyone who may be hard of hearing. This set has a dual functioning system that works to block outside noise like wind or background chatter while keeping the source audio crisp.
15. Smart lightbulbs that can be voice-controlled
We should all have LED lightbulbs in our home now. They’re energy-efficient and safer. I also prefer the quality of light they put out. These LIFX lightbulbs are the perfect replacement for any bulbs that may be flickering in the home. They fit most lighting fixtures, have a dimmable option, and can be controlled by voice or app.
The bulbs respond to a person's voice (or smartphone app), so they can create an atmosphere as soon as they walk into the room. They’re also great for people who have limited mobility who have difficulty adjusting their home’s lighting throughout the day.
16. This smart scale ideal for people watching their health
Having an accurate scale is a great home resource. The Withings Smart Scale does more than tell users how much they weigh—it uses position-control technology to display weight and BMI measurements. It also can track muscle, bone mass, and water percentage. The scale can store and track data for up to eight people (!) and even has a “Baby Mode” to track pregnancies and the smallest kiddos in the family.
Users don’t have to download any additional apps because the Withings Scale can connect to the Apple Health app and 100 others, like Google Fit and MyFitnessPal.
17. A smart clock to keep people on time
I recommend using an alarm clock other than your phone, even if it’s also a smart device. The Lenovo Smart Clock is equipped with Google Assistant technology, so people can start their day with practically any audio they want to wake to. The clock links to WiFi and other home devices, so people can start their coffee and turn on the bathroom lights all before sitting up in bed.
The clock is handy for anyone who may need bedside assistance because they can easily contact someone or turn on lights and devices that may help them maneuver. They can also set morning and nighttime routines with the clock including reports about the weather, news, or from their calendar.
18. This weather-resistant security system perfect for staying alert
Some home security systems aren’t compatible with preexisting wiring or house structures, but the Arlo Pro camera system will work just about anywhere. Users can select up to four cameras to fit their home’s needs and then place the wireless cameras anywhere. The cameras are weather-resistant and feature two-way audio and night vision.
The entire system can be controlled through Amazon’s Alexa or an app on users' phones that gives them the option to monitor specific areas, detect certain people, or alert emergency services without sounding alarms. And the system, of course, has alarms that connect to all a home's devices, so even family members with disabilities or secluded rooms can receive alerts.
19. A ‘magical’ streaming device
Google Chromecast replaces old HDMI cords by plugging into the back of a person's TV and using WiFi or Bluetooth to stream what they have on their phone or laptop—from YouTube to HBO or Disney+. The Chromecast is sleek, and it keeps the entertainment system from being a jungle of cords.
It's an easy way for people to keep their favorite shows and channels condensed to one device (and hopefully just one remote), allowing for easier access to great shows and movies.
20. A video doorbell that allows users to see who's at the door
Whether they already have a home security system or not, a video-enabled doorbell adds an extra layer of security. The Ring doorbell monitors who is outside the home 24/7. It records video when it senses movement and sends alerts in real-time, even when users aren't home.
Since it’s equipped with two-way audio, users can listen or communicate with visitors from anywhere through the Apple or Android app. Users can adjust the motion sensors to monitor their doorstep, porch, or driveway. It also works at night, so people can rest knowing they're protected.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.