BY ILYCE GLINK
OCTOBER 10, 2017 / 5:30 AM / MONEYWATCH
"Aging in place" is a hot topic these days -- particularly among baby boomers who want to maintain their independence.
While flocking to smaller homes in warmer climates is still attractive for some seniors easing into their later years, more and more people are choosing to stay where they are. In fact, 85 percent of homeowners 55 and older aren't planning to sell their homes in the next year, according to a 2017 survey from Realtor.com.
"Aging in place really is a concept based on where you're living and your preference to staying, whatever you home of choice is," said Laurie Orlov, tech industry veteran, eldercare advocate and founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch.
Not every home is set up to ease the transition into adults' older years, when mobility can become a major issue. Declining hearing, sight and mental awareness can also affect how easy or safe it is to continue living independently in a person's home of choice.
But smart home technology brings a whole host of solutions to the table.
"Electronically controllable thermostats, lighting, motion sensors, smart doorbells -- these are all technologies that have been bundled into the concept of smart homes," said Orlov. "You can see how they would be useful in helping people remain in their homes even as they felt less safe in the neighborhood or weren't good at thermostat management or were at risk of falling in their own homes and being left alone."
However, there can be significant barriers for homeowners hoping to adapt their homes to be "smarter." One issue is the sometimes-complex setup process these features require, said Orlov, which can intimidate homeowners who aren't confident about their tech savviness.
Another is the cost, not only of the items themselves, but also of high-speed internet service plans, which puts smart home technology out of reach for seniors with lower incomes.
In some cases, an individual's health or financial situation could still require her to look for a different living situation. For homeowners preparing for the future, or hoping to extend their years in their current homes, here are 10 smart home features that could help.