One of the things I admired about my mum when she was alive was her tenacity with all things technology. Whether it was the latest iPod or a software update on her laptop, she was curious and open. Even in her final months with failing eyesight and physical pain, she had an insatiable appetite to “keep up”.
But for many of us, embracing smart gadgets can seem daunting. “What if I press the wrong button” and “If I do, how can I navigate my way back?” Luckily, times have changed and technology is designed to be much more accessible to all.
Here are our mini reviews of some gadgets on the market today.
1. Robot vacuums:
Gone are the days of setting aside time to vacuum the house! These small, automatic (usually disc-shaped) marvels glide themselves across the floor, picking up dust and debris while you just watch with wonder. Or better still, while you do something you actually want to do with your golden years. With sensors to navigate around furniture and avoid stairs, they’re straightforward to use once the initial set-up is complete. Just press a button to start them, and off they go. Once the job is done or the battery needs recharging, they make their own way back to the charging station. And luckily most of them are quiet and don’t cost the earth. They are a worthwhile addition for those with physical impairments who can’t move around so easily. They will also not harm pets!
Price range: $400-2000
This nifty kitchen gadget uses hot air to cook your dishes, providing a delicious crunch without the oil of traditional frying. Typically simple to use with one-touch presets, the pans are dishwasher-safe and easy to clean. If you’re wanting to eat more healthily, these devices are well worth considering. Of course, an oven can do the same job with little or no oil, but the air fryer is often useful for a single person or couple who doesn’t need the volume of an oven. Plus, its compact size won’t take up much counter space, so perfect for those who are downsizing.
With retirement often comes travel and more time away from the home. Smart security systems offer real-time monitoring (through cameras you can view from any smartphone) and are a great way of providing that peace of mind when you’re travelling. These smart systems (which are remarkably cost-effective, these days) are made up of video cameras mounted in the home (or garden) that connect to the internet. From any location with an internet connection or mobile phone coverage, you can monitor your property from afar. Many have motion detection, meaning they don’t have to continuously record images. But do your research thoroughly before you purchase. There’s a range of features and you’ll want to get what’s suitable for your specific situation.
Price range: $100-1000 (for one camera system, not including installation)
4. Smart speakers (voice assistants):
These compact devices respond to your voice for playing music, setting reminders or getting the latest news. Think of them as a personal assistant, entertainer and information hub all in one. Whether you need a recipe read aloud or you want to know the weather for today, you can just ask your smart speaker. They are typically easy to set up and user-friendly. Popular options include Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple Siri. Voice recognition technology has come a long way since it initially came to the market, and the devices can now distinguish between the voices of household members and remember personal preferences. And for those concerned about privacy and tracking, it’s worth bearing in mind that our smartphones are listening and tracking us more than we might realise.
Price range: $90-400
5. Smart hearing aids:
Smart hearing aids are transforming the way retirees listen and live. The technology behind hearing aids has progressed massively in the last decade or so. The most significant development is the addition of Bluetooth connectivity, meaning you can connect directly to smartphones, TVs and other gadgets for seamless audio streaming. With additional features like background noise reduction and directional microphones, you won’t miss a beat of your favourite tunes or the laughter of your grandchildren. Many models these days allow you to adjust settings via an app, giving you control at your fingertips.
Price range: $1500-10,000
Remember, these gadgets are all about enhancing your quality of life. Start small, begin with one device that works for you and get comfortable using it before adding another to your collection. In this digital era, there’s no reason retirees should miss out. So take advantage of what modern technology has to offer, and you may find yourself wondering how you ever lived without it.
Kathy Catton is a freelance writer and editor, based on the Banks Peninsula. She is an experienced feature writer, magazine editor and copywriter. Quick to grasp the crux of any story and tell it in plain English, Kathy enjoys bringing stories to readers that surprise and delight.
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