For many people who are approaching or already in retirement, housing can be a big decision. When determining where they will choose to age, considerations should go beyond if a home is affordable or in a desirable location. Can the home meet their changing needs as they age? For example, does it have features that will allow them to live comfortably in the event of declining mobility? For a married couple, could a spouse remain in the home if they find themselves having to live alone?
These may be topics that your clients haven’t thought about, which gives you the opportunity not only to provide a space for them to have what can be difficult conversations about their living situation, but also to provide substantial recommendations for aging safely.
It’s widely known that a home can be retrofitted to make it more accessible for aging occupants. There are building contractors who can help to design safe homes with elements such as handicap-accessible bathrooms, ramps, and low-threshold or walk-in showers. These are very important, but now technology is being added to the conversation. Real estate firms across the country are encouraging their clients to include appliances, such as Nest thermostats to regulate temperature, a refrigerator that can track your grocery list, or even devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, prior to listing a home, so that they can title it a “Smart Home.” Many of these features make life easier or more convenient, but at the end of the day, are these technologies making the home a safer place to age in?
What your clients may not know—and therefore what you can educate them on—is that there are lesser-known advances in technology that they could add to their home to help them prepare to age more independently. Considering researching and informing your clients about features such as:
- Pressure sensors in carpeting that will notify authorities and loved ones if someone has suffered a fall.
- Cameras, not to intrude, but to help your loved ones ensure you are safe and sound.
- A stove cooktop that will time out and turn off in case someone leaves the burner on.
- Sensors and monitors if a door is left open.
- Caregiver tracking to see when caregivers enter and exit a home.
These are just a few examples of ways that technology can be used to ensure your clients and their loved ones have peace of mind. An advisor’s role with clients is ever expanding. Clients are looking to be educated and for the advisor to be a connector. Look for ways to connect them to features and resources that not only help them live longer, but live better. One way to do that is to help them make sure that their house is not only a smart home, but also a safe home.
Hartford Mutual Funds may or may not be invested in the companies referenced herein; however, no particular endorsement of any product or service is being made.