'Smart Home' technology helps seniors at Malvern retirement community

MALVERN, Pa. (WPVI) -- 74-year-old Steve Cushmore lives by himself in an apartment at Echo Lake retirement community. However, he is certainly not alone.

"Alexa, turn all the lights on, please," he said to his digital companion.

The cloud-based voice service created by Amazon has given the former lawyer a chance to stride into retirement.

"I've only been diagnosed with Parkinson's for about four years, but I'm really grateful for this smart technology," said Cushmore. "Makes me realize I'm going to be independent for a much longer period of time than I thought."

Cushmore requires a special walker to keep his feet moving. However, he could not physically carry the mechanism while simultaneously opening the front door.

"Doors are very heavy here because they're fire retardant," he said. "So, I wasn't able to bring my up-walker into my apartment until I got this smart technology."

This technology has been specially curated by Kirby Smith, president and founder of the Philadelphia-based business, SunKirb Ideas.

"Thermostats, lights, everything now is covered," said Smith. "What I do is automate homes, turn them into smart homes using everyday consumer electronics."

Smith notes how families can use the technology to keep a watchful eye on loved ones while allowing them to live independently. Also, with a fully outfitted smart home, artificial intelligence can lock doors and turn off lights by monitoring routines.

"A lot of people have this belief that people who are aging can't use it," he mentioned. "They tend to just pick it up right away."

Smith believes the number of benefits outweigh the elements that cause hesitancy.

"Obviously, there are big concerns people have and I have especially around security," he said. "But I find it extremely exciting and it's kind of a fun period to be in."

Smith is excited to install more specialized smart technologies within Echo Lake, a retirement community built from the ground-up starting just five years ago.

"We've just started rolling it out, and already we have other residents asking because they definitely see the benefit of it," said Kelly Andress.

Andress is the founder and president of SageLife Senior Living, which owns and operates 11 communities from Baltimore to Boston. Four of those are located in the Greater Philadelphia Area.

To learn more about Echo Lake, visit their website.

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