A lot depends on the computer skills of the person you are setting it up for but also what their needs are. It is vital that what you are doing is for the person and not just because you fancy doing it. The person in this example is OK on a computer/iPad and has restricted mobility, can walk but is just a bit slow. The home automation for the elderly set up was to help with switching on/off devices, provide some extra security and also to improve on currently installed hardware.
Before even starting you have to ensure that remote support is possible preferably by having access to the accounts (ensuring that the person know s that you can do that). This can save hours of walking through things via a phone call.
The first thing done setting up an Amazon echo. Most of the uses are already known but device switching was why this was chosen. Also the Echo Dot is quite small and easy to find a location for. An Echo show is a possibility foir the future to allow quicker access to the Ring doorbell.
Talking of the Ring doorbell, this was next. The reason behind this was initially security as there had been an attempted break-in at the front door. The Ring doorbell in addition also provides a security camera if required. After the hardware installation a Ring account was created to enable notifications on their iPad and allow 2-way communication. A secondary account was set-up that was linked to assist with any support problems. Also made sure that the person knew how to remove the device to charge the battery. One final addition was the remote door chime. This was set to barking dog and when next to it, it does sound fake but from outside it has fooled several people.
Next was remote switches. The ones installed are WeMo plus a couple of lightbulbs. These require an app in order to set them up but is relatively straight forward. The switches are used for turning on reading and room lamps. The bulbs are for the upstairs hallway and outside above the door. These work with Amazon Alexa that makes switching them on/off very easy.
The final hardware setup was for the central heating to have a connected Hive (in the UK) thermostat and control. Via an app, for heating and hot water schedules to be created and operated. Compared to the old timer unit this is so easy to operate and change. It is also Echo compatible so “Boost heating” is convenient.
These all worked well through individual apps. However, adding a few Echo dots made operation a lot easier. Turn on lights, boost heating and so on were possible through voice commands. The Echo units also provided help with crosswords and other things!
Whilst this setup has been reliable it occasionally will not work for some reason. It can be an out-of-date app, something needing a firmware update, plus a few other things. Because of that it is important that you know how things work and have remote access to trouble shoot. This can mean using the account details or having a linked account.
Obviously there are other lights and devices that can be added. Not all will be from the same manufacturer but something like an Amazon Echo can usually be connected to control them. Another point worth remembering is that some systems require a dedicated hub that may need an ethernet connection rather than wifi. This can lead to having a router or switches with more physical ports.
Whilst ethernet isn’t really hard to maintain it is worth locating any such hardware in a convenient location so the elderly person knows where it is and is able to do an easy switch off and on if required. Also labelling equipment helps so if you are helping via a phone call they will know what you are talking about.
To sum up, for the elderly, automating some functions can really help their security and accessibility which in turn helps to feel less anxious and comfortable.