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Retirees, Transform Your House Using Smart Home Technology

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Hank Norsworthy was tired of having to walk down a dark hallway to get to bed. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about 40 years ago, he uses a rollator (a walker with wheels) to get around. After several friends adopted smart home technology to automate certain features, he decided to give it a try.

A few months ago, he bought an Echo Dot as well as some smart lightbulbs and smart plugs to help automate his lighting. With these adjustments, he can now ask Alexa to turn his lights on or off without having to walk down a dark hallway. Norsworthy has been so happy with the results he's considering getting a smart lock for his front door and more smart lights for his garage. "This beats the little motion detector lights I was using before," says Norsworthy, 77, of Jacksonville, Fla.

With no small keypads to squint over or an intimidating selection of buttons to press, more older adults are discovering and adopting easy-to-use, voice-activated smart home technology because it relies on something all of them know how to do: speak. The percentage of adults 50 years and older that own smart home technology nearly doubled in just a year, from 10% in 2019 to 19% in 2020, according to AARP's report "2021 Tech Trends and the 50 ."

Using the system may be easy, but the real challenge is choosing which one you want from the three tech giants -- Amazon, Google and Apple -- dominating voice activated smart home technology. Because it isn't always interchangeable across platforms, consumers can get locked into buying only one company's products and accessories. So think about which smart home features you want and why before investing in a system. "People need to make technology choices based on their use patterns," says Tom Kamber, founder and executive director of Older Adults Technology Services, which trains people to use technology through its flagship program Senior Planet and is affiliated with AARP.

Those functions will be determined in part........

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