Choosing the Best Thermostats for the Elderly

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Many seniors wage war with their thermostats. Learn about some easy to use thermostats for the elderly plus some more techy options that you can even monitor from your own home to give them a helping hand.

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Every home should have a good thermostat. While there’s nothing like opening the windows and letting in a fresh breeze, it’s not practical in every part of the country. Even the regions that can do it can only do it on certain days.

Modern heating and air conditioning are a must. However, for the elderly, it’s also imperative that it be cool enough or warm enough. Younger generations simply can’t understand how different things feel for us, although hopefully, they’ll live long enough to learn.

If you need a new thermostat for your golden years home, you need something that’s easy to use, safe, and takes advantage of modern technology. Then again, you might also long for the simplicity of that old analog dial.

Keep reading to learn how to choose among the best thermostats for the elderly, specific features to look for, how to remotely monitor an elderly person’s thermostat, reviews and pros and cons of some of the best options, frequently asked questions, and resource links.

How To Choose A Thermostat For The Elderly

I won’t kid you. Shopping for a thermostat for a senior can be frustrating. If you’re shopping for one for yourself, you might get a little bitter at the lack of older analog models we’re used to. If you’re shopping for a relative, it can get even harder. The simplicity of analog controls is hard to give up.

Having said that, there are some great options and features to look out for in modern thermostats.

Here are a few:

Audio Capability

If you really want something sweet that makes up for the loss of the familiar comfort of analog, why not take a true step into the future? A thermostat that talks to you is pretty good company for not being a living person.

Big Buttons

These should be easy for anyone to press. If visual impairment is a concern, then having braille buttons is an extra touch, pardon the pun.

Easy to See Display

Senior eyes have seen a lot in life already. Big, crisp, easy-to-read numbers are really ideal here.

Energy Savings

Digital technology can mean precision control over the temperature. Shaving just a degree or two off a thermostat can mean seriously reduced utility bills with negligible difference in actual comfort.

Programmability

This is closely related to the energy efficiency I just mentioned. Programming a thermostat in advance for when people are home or not or just sleeping saves a lot of energy, but it also saves a lot of time.

Remote Access

This works out really well for caregivers who aren’t there, but even seniors living in that home can enjoy remote access. Being able to change the temperature from their seat in the living room or while even in bed can really spare a burden on those who have mobility issues (or just don’t want to get up when they’re cozy).

Size

This isn’t as much of a threat as it used to be, but some older thermostats were large, bulky boxes. These could once in a while be an impact threat to someone’s head. Someone using the wall for support while moving down a hall could also snag their hand on such a model. Newer thermostats are considerably more sleek and compact, minimizing this risk. I admit, I rarely hear about this particular danger happening, but for a senior citizen, any risk of a fall should be negated.

Some seniors get confused by their thermostats. With some of the newly available thermostats for the elderly, you can monitor them from a distance over the internet.

How To Remotely Monitor An Elderly Person’s Thermostat

Three steps are necessary if you want to remotely monitor an elderly person’s thermostat. The obvious advantage to doing so is being able to know they have enough heat or cooling as needed. You can do this without having to physically check in on them or have them take a look themselves when you have them on the phone. In fact, you can check it yourself anytime you want at any hour of the day.

The first step is making sure that their thermostat is a digital model with the right hardware for a wireless or Internet connection. Many new thermostats feature this, whether users enable it or not, so that their thermostat data and controls can be accessed remotely.

The second step is making sure that there is a connection medium. If the elderly person’s home has Internet connectivity, then the thermostat should be able to connect to it either through a hardwire or more commonly WiFi. Bluetooth and other options are also available.

Third, you need a device of your own for the remote interface. This is typically done using a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Many thermostats allowing remote access will work with any of these pieces of technology for your convenience.

Best Thermostats For The Elderly

Now that I’ve covered how to choose a great thermostat for an elderly resident, it’s time to look at some specific models. Hopefully, the following options and their pros and cons will make your shopping a bit easier.

These certainly aren’t the only models on the market, but they’re a sampling of some of the best thermostats for the elderly.

Announces Temperature and Settings

VIP3000 Talking Thermostat | Amazon.com

$299.99

Designed for the blind, this thermostat gives talking prompts that announces out loud the temperature and which buttons are being pressed. But, it does not accept verbal commands and there are no Wi-Fi or remote monitoring functions available. This one is best for seniors who are able to control their own temperatures but are having trouble seeing their current thermostat.

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If you’re looking for ease of use, this is the one. It features a talking prompt that lets users know what buttons they have pressed and what the current thermostat settings are. It also works with multistage AC units, heat pumps, and oil, gas, and electric furnaces.

The versatility of the device means it should work in practically any home. Users can both hear and see what the settings are, and caregivers can rest easy knowing their loved one has simple technology at their fingertips.

Pros:

  • Simple set up
  • Easy to use
  • Great spacing between buttons
  • Clear voice information

Cons:

  • Doesn’t respond to verbal commands
  • Included CD of training sounds can seem intimidating

Familiar Knob Function + Remote Monitoring

Lux Kono Smart Wi-Fi Thermostat | The Home Depot

$99.99

The Lux thermostat also has a more simple display and uses a familiar knob for temperature adjustments. If hooks up to Wi-Fi for monitoring settings and temperature remotely and comes with an app that gives you access to all settings as well as temperature alerts. You even get a choice of faceplates and color options too!

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Want a compromise between the comfort of an analog dial but still enjoy modern technology? Get this one.

Johnson Controls works on designing technology just for senior citizens, and this unit is a prime example of their work. There are no buttons, but you can schedule it! The interface has a super bright display featuring a large dial that you might be more accustomed to.

Pros:

  • Customization options
  • Works with smart-homes
  • Compromise between analog features and modern tech
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • No readings for outdoor temperatures
  • Nothing about humidity levels

Familiar Feel With Large Raised Numbers

Honeywell T87N1026 Heat/Cool Thermostat | Amazon.com

$75.07

This is a great thermostat for the elderly because it has a familiar look and feel. It even clicks when the temperature is changed confirming to the senior that they made a change. This one was designed for the visually impaired with large numbers and raised lettering. But, there are no Wi-Fi or monitoring functions available.

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Not ready to give up an analog dial? This might be a great model to consider. It’s also great for anyone on a tight budget.

This unit is a simple knob, turned left or right for cooler or hotter. It makes a clicking sound every 2 degrees Fahrenheit. Raised, enlarged numbers further help out anyone who is visually impaired. Even the blind can use it, given the braille markings so they can go be feel.

Pros:

  • Mercury-free
  • 5-year warranty
  • Dial clicks every other unit
  • Easy-to-feel readings

Cons:

  • Nothing digital
  • Only works on 2/3-wire heat systems

Simple Appearance With Lots of Functions

Google Nest Learning Thermostat | Amazon.com

$245.98

The Google Nest has a more simple and less intimidating look for seniors and the elderly than some of the other options. But, it has many of the same functions including an app to monitor the thermostat remotely as well as receive alerts if anything steps outside of the parameters you set. It claims to learn your habits too although most people report mixed results with that.

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Google isn’t just a search engine online. They have a line of smart thermostats. You might have even missed the phase where they dominated this sector, and they deserved to. Competition has caught up to them, but haven’t passed them yet. You still get nearly all the features you could want in one package.

Users and caregivers alike can control the settings via their smartphone. The upfront cost is a bit higher than many other models, but for that investment, you get superior customer services and tremendous energy efficiency.

This thing eventually pays for itself in lower utility/power bills, which is crucial to anyone on a fixed income, as retirees often are.

Pros:

  • Exemplary customer support
  • Monitors for various issues
  • Energy savings over time
  • Enhanced geofencing

Cons:

  • The accuracy is oddly not as good as it seems it should be
  • Upfront price

Monitor With App and Get Alerts

Emerson Sensi Touch Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat ST75W | Amazon.com

$149.00

This thermostat looks great but might be a bit intimidating for more elderly users although the operation is easy. Simple up and down arrows on the touch screen raise and lower the temperature. You can even give it voice commands through Alexa or Siri. Plus, all functions can be monitored remotely through an app with programmable alerts if the temperature is too hot or too cold.

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05/08/2021 09:13 am GMT

Large fonts make this one easy to read. However, voice controls are also possible through Alexa via an Amazon Echo. Here, you can go full Star Trek and give technology orders via voice command. It also works with Siri, and caregivers can access the readings via a free app.

This versatile piece of technology works with numerous heating and cooling systems, which include not just gas, oil, radiant heat, and heat pumps, but even steam heat and geothermal systems. That means it should work in nearly any home and it is also ready to work with any future system or unit that might get installed later.

Pros:

  • Big readings easy to read
  • Voice controls
  • Caregiver connectivity
  • Suits most homes today and tomorrow

Cons:

  • More expensive than other options
  • Voice controls need auxiliary devices to route through

Frequently Asked Questions / FAQ:

What Is The Ideal Room Temperature For An Elderly Person?

In general, a room temperature range of 68F – 74F should keep the elderly safe.[4]

What Temperature Is Dangerous For The Elderly?

Body temperature is the best indicator. Anything 95F or under is a risk of serious hypothermia and requires medical attention. Anything 103F or over indicates a potentially severe fever and also requires medical attention.[3],[4]

Why Are Elderly People Always So Cold?

As we age, we produce less and less body heat within ourselves. By the time we get to our elderly years, we get noticeably colder than our younger friends and family as a result of this. Another common cause of feeling cold in the elderly is the decreased elasticity and thinning of the human skin, which means less insulation for the body.

What Can Happen If Elderly People Get Too Cold?

The big risk we face as elderly in the cold is hypothermia. Symptoms and warning signs of hypothermia include slowed reactions and movements and sleepiness. Confusion and slow/slurred speech are also possible complications. I advise you to talk to your doctor about any chronic health issues or medications that might also boost your risk of suffering hypothermia.[5]

What Can Happen If Elderly People Get Too Hot?

When senior citizens overheat, they may suffer from heat stroke. That can mean a high body temperature in excess of 104F, confusion, and changes in behavior. Other possibilities include dry and/or flushed skin and lack of sweating, even in heat. Staggering, fainting, and feeling like you might faint are all possible problems, as are either a slow and weak pulse or a strong and rapid pulse. In severe cases, a comatose state can result.[6]

Summary And Final Recommendations

Whether it’s too cold or too hot, you or the elderly person you care for are susceptible to temperatures outside of a certain range. We’re not as durable as our kids or grandkids, so we need to be careful to take care of ourselves. Modern thermostats make this much easier to do.

If you’re looking for one for your home, figure out your budget and then look for something that is easy to see and use. If someone checks in on you or you are a caregiver for someone you don’t live with, make sure there is some kind of connectivity so you can keep tabs on them through your phone or tablet.

Hypothermia and heat stroke are opposite conditions, and yet both can prove permanently debilitating or deadly. If you live as a senior, you need to make sure you are not only comfortable, but safe. If you’re a caregiver, then you need to know at any time that the person you care for is within a safe range of temperatures.

Seniors sometimes simply can’t tell if it’s too hot or cold, or they just might avoid altering their thermostat as necessary, because they want to save money or they just are afraid to admit they don’t know how. Hopefully, these modern thermostats for seniors help prevent such issues.

Resource Links

The following resources were used in the research of this content. If you’re still in need of more information about this important matter, then feel free to look over them to learn what you need to know.

  1. https://www.cozyhomehq.com/best-thermostats-for-the-elderly-and-visually-impaired/
  2. https://climesense.com/smart-thermostat-elderly
  3. https://belvederehealthservices.com/belvedere-home-care/blog/senior-fever-when-be-concerned-about-fever
  4. https://www.aireserv.com/about/blog/2019/january/what-is-a-safe-room-temperature-for-elderly-peop/
  5. https://caregiver.com/articles/why-seniors-cold/
  6. https://www.everydayhealth.com/senior-health/overheating-in-older-adults.aspx
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