Aging In Place

8/22/2023 | By Beth Kuberka

As more adults reach retirement age, most want to remain independent at home. We look at some simple tech solutions that make aging in place easier for everyone.

When KC Babb’s internet went out at her Michigan vacation home for five days, she says she and her husband “were getting a little twitchy.”

Between her iPhone, iPad, two Alexa Dots, Kindle and her trusty PC, she uses the internet daily, if not hourly. But she’s also the exception; KC was one of the first computer programmer trainees to be hired at Sears and Roebuck in Chicago in the early 1970’s. She got her first Apple PC – one of the first personal computers ever available – while on maternity leave in 1978. Remote work was the norm for her IBM gig in the early 2000s.

“I’ve always embraced technology,” said the 72-year-old. “That doesn’t mean I don’t yell at it,” she added wryly.

Babb is not your typical septuagenarian. She and her husband retired to Tellico Village, outside Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2017, building a home they hope to be in for the rest of their lives – a term the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls “aging in place.”

They’re not alone. In a survey from Home Instead, 94% of older adults said they plan to stay in their own homes as they age, living independently, comfortably, and safely. For many, staying in their homes as long as possible makes sense. Many have emotional attachments to their homes. Others value their independence.

New technology makes it possible, including simple tech solutions.

Ed Grollemond lives near Babb in Tellico Village. A few times a year, the 65-year-old IT consultant hosts community tech seminars to get the mostly-retired residents upgraded with new technology – or, at least, comfortable with current technology.

“People in their 80s may have some troubles with it,” he explained, “but those in their 60s or 70s are more likely to embrace it. Remember, many of us were working professionals until quite recently, so we’re more comfortable with computers.”

Thanks to the internet, generations can bridge the tech gap; grandchildren, Grollemond said, are great motivation for tech adoption. While IT professionals will tout technology to improve safety and autonomy, emotional connectivity to grandkids wins over hearts.

Some simple tech solutions

Home automation

Home automation technology can provide increased convenience, comfort and safety. Smart thermostats, lighting systems, and security cameras can be controlled from a smartphone or website. This saves energy but also enhances safety, such as remotely monitoring for potential falls or emergencies. Babb finds smart lightbulbs useful, even for something as simple as letting her dogs out in the middle of the night.

Amazon Echo and Google Home are two examples of this home automation technology. With Google Nest Kit, every part of the home can be controlled from a single hub. This may make it easier for older adults to learn one single management system.


Technology has improved safety alert systems. Video doorbells, whether from Ring or other providers, enable a homeowner to see who comes to the door via a smartphone app. (Especially as people age, “they may not be able to make it to the door quickly,” Grollemond noted.) The Ring’s optional Protect Plan also offers smarter alerts, including human detection capabilities.

There are also smart door locks that allow homeowners or caregivers to program access and monitor activity. Stove fire prevention devices automatically shut off a stove if it is left unattended for a specific time. Smart fire, water, and CO2 detectors can not only alert the homeowner to danger but also contact a family member or first responders in an emergency.

Home monitoring systems

A senior man has fallen, glasses on the floor in front of him. More aging adults want to remain independent at home. We look at some simple tech solutions that make aging in place easier for everyone.

Grollemond recommends his neighbors get video cameras. Grollemond has four outside his home; even one inside the main area of the aging parent’s home may give adult children peace of mind. Some cameras can be controlled remotely – tilting or swiveling to give a better view of the area – and children may appreciate the capability some have to talk through them. The stationary cameras will cost $100 or less; the swiveling ones can cost as much as $300.

Other options include home sensors that can learn a person’s usual daily pattern and monitor activity, then alert a caregiver if there are changes in patterns that could indicate a problem. Caregivers can tap into data via an app or web portal. These sensor suites use artificial intelligence to detect changes in usual patterns.

More than one in four adults (28%) 65 and older report falling each year. Advanced motion sensors can monitor room activity for potential falls and automatically contact emergency help.

Related: Physical home modifications for aging in place


Many communities also have programs in place to help residents stay in their homes longer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and National Council on Aging offer an excellent resources on and for aging populations. Many municipalities across the United States, from states to counties to metro areas, offer local programs to seniors, such as Meals on Wheels.

Babb and Grollemond’s Tellico Village, an active senior living community in Tennessee, has the STAYinTV program that helps to update homes to be compatible with aging owners, offers rides, help with errands, and check in frequently to make sure neighbors are OK.

Overcoming technology intimidation

Babb has been a longtime evangelist of technology – “anything to circumvent writing,” said the left-handed programmer. She often hears her friends and new neighbors bemoan technology.

“I think people are intimidated by technology in general. But if you tell them the right thing, they have that ‘ah-ha’ moment.”

Her advice is to offer a reluctant retiree a small number of simple tech solutions. “Find the one thing they might be interested in, and show them how tech can help them.”

Consider introducing them to Mahjong online, then apps to video chat with the grandkids. From there, other new technology may be more palatable.

But, above all, remember to approach the idea of introducing more technology delicately. The most ideal way is the most low-tech way possible: in person.

Beth Kuberka

Beth Kuberka is the chief development, marketing and communication officer of Tellico Village, a planned active adult community in Tennessee. She oversees all communications, marketing, sales and first impression initiatives for the village. She has nearly 20 years of experience in planned senior community marketing. She spent 8 years at Rarity Bay, working her way up to marketing director before joining Tellico Village in 2012. Kuberka has extensive knowledge of the workings of senior living communities. She has developed several programs, and currently manages an alliance of 88 village-based businesses. She earned a Bachelor in Informational Science from the University of Tennessee in 2004 with a focus on advertising and business marketing.