Mom and Dad are aging. What makes them different than their parents is that many more of them are planning on staying home. Indeed, more aging Americans are choosing to stay home rather than pack up to move to an assisted living facility. For some of their children, this may be cause for alarm. Will they be ok at home? Will they be safe?
With the increasing trend of the elderly choosing to stay home, there is a burgeoning industry exploring ways to make senior safety more widely available, affordable, and effective. A major concern families of the elderly have is keeping an eye on their loved ones when they can’t be there in person. The following are five tools available right now to help keep an elderly family member safe at home.
Emergency Phone Routing
PERS or Personal Emergency Response Services have been around for awhile. They have been effectively field tested and have repeatedly shown that they can save lives. They consist of a pendant or wrist device that, with a single push of a button, routs a call to a home-base system plugged into a landline. Most of these devices allow for two-way communication. In case of a fall or similar situation where an elderly person can’t get to the phone, this is a lifesaver. PERS companies typically charge a fee per month to provide their service. Popular services include Life Alert, Medical Alert, Alert1, AMAC, Philips Lifeline, and ADT.
Video monitoring systems are becoming popular for multiple reasons, including for security, or for monitoring a child or pet. The technology has improved over the years and the cost of a video monitoring system is lower than ever. Cameras can be set around the home and connect to each other through Wifi signals. Video feeds are sent to your smartphone, tablet, computer, or a monitoring service so that you can keep tabs on an elderly relative. Although camera capabilities will vary, the best devices all provide wide-view angles, HD quality video, night vision, built-in motion detection, and sound detection that can notify you when something is happening. Be wary, however, as privacy is a concern among the elderly who require care. Some may welcome the idea, but others will outright reject it. Nest Cam, Piper NV, and Simplicam provide quality products and services to make safe your loved ones.
If you or your parents are uncomfortable with video monitoring, sensors may be a good alternative. Sensors can be planted almost anywhere in a home and are much less invasive. They can be attached to doors, a refrigerator, chairs, beds, etc. They send signals right to your smartphone letting you know when a sensor has been triggered and at what time. They can also tell you the last time the sensor was triggered. This allows adult children to know if their parent has left the house, gone into the bathroom, opened their refrigerator, opened their medicine cabinet, or if they are sitting in their living room chair. Abnormalities will indicate that the parent may need to be checked on. Grandcare Systems, BeClose, Lively, and Evermind are all great services with sensor technology.
An increasing number of mobile apps designed to help care for seniors are beginning to flood the market. These smartphone apps can work in conjunction with sensor or camera systems. Mobile apps partner convenience and practicality. Apps can also be used by caregivers as a resource complete with helpful tools and two-way communication such as AARP’s Caregiving app. Whether it is setting calendar dates for doctor’s appointments, setting reminders for taking medications, or keeping track of allergies and other special needs, mobile technology is
improving the lives of both patients and caregivers alike. The home care industry has made several attempts to create apps that connect patients and their families with caregivers. There is yet to be any one app that stands above the others, but there are several companies hard at work to find the right balance of convenience, trust, and reliability that patients expect from a home care app.
Although not originally intended for elderly care, internet-connected assistants show a tremendous amount of promise for helping seniors and those who care for them. Internet-connected assistants are devices that incorporate a wide range of tools to help users manage all of their household appliances in one place, such as locks, clocks, cookers, alarms, thermostats, and almost any electrical device around the house. If it can be plugged into some kind of socket, the chances are that internet-connected assistants make its associated tasks easier in some way. One of the best rated devices on the market to date is the Amazon Echo, a device now made famous by its celebrity endorser, Alec Baldwin.