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Caregivers’ Guide to Smart Technology

David used to call his mother, Mary, three or more times a day to make sure that she took her medications. David, who lives five hours away from his mother, was constantly worried about her. Mary has mild dementia and chronic health issues. David often wondering whether or not she was getting home safely when she left the house for her short walks.

David talked to his mother’s care coordinator about his concerns. The care coordinator recommended using smart home technology to help David ensure his mother’s well-being and safety.

David finally found peace of mind with a smart home system that helps him unobtrusively monitor his mother’s safety in her home. Called Assured Living, the system consists of a series of sensors that learns Mary’s activity patterns over time. If Mary’s activity is out of the ordinary, then the system alerts David via a smartphone app and text alert. David can remotely check the door locks to ensure that Mary remembered to lock them after coming in from her walk. He receives alerts whenever a visitor is at the door and can see who is outside with the video doorbell. The monitoring company automatically alerts David if there are any problems.  The price of this system and professional monitoring is very affordable — significantly cheaper than assisted living.

This system is just one of the emerging and new forms of smart home technologies that can allow seniors to live at home safely.

How Do  I Set Up A Smart Home System For My Loved One?

With any smart home system, you start with a hub or base. The hub allows you to connect various devices to your system. Many systems and devices are self-installed. The installation is usually very easy and usually takes an hour or so to connect everything. Popular hubs include Samsung SmartThings and the Wink Hub. With these hubs, you can connect various devices that use Zigbee, Z-Wave and other types of wireless sensors. These sensors transmit signals to the hub to “communicate”. Since many hubs can be used to connect hundreds of devices, you can add more components to the system as your loved one’s needs change. For example, if your parent initially only needs reminders to take medications and a fall detector, you might start with those devices. Later, if they start having problems with their eyesight, you could add smart lighting to the system.

Popular Smart Home Devices for Seniors

There are a variety of low-cost smart home devices on the market that can help you track your loved one’s activity, remind them to take their medication and alert authorities in the event of a fall. Here are some of the more popular devices for seniors.

Smart Pill Box

Smart pillboxes, like the Memo Box Deluxe, allow you to monitor whether or not your loved one takes their medications. This particular pillbox sends alerts to caregivers whenever the user takes medications. It also allows you to set audiovisual reminders, as well. This pillbox also prevents accidental overdoses by flashing alerts whenever the user attempts to double dose. If your parent loses their pill box, it can be located using the app. You can “ping” the pillbox using the app to assist your family member with finding it.

Voice Assistant

Voice assistants, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home are perfect for seniors. Because seniors who have dementia often get anxious, they might call a caretaker multiple times throughout the day or repeat questions endlessly. This often frustrates caretakers. A voice assistant can provide entertainment by playing music, talking about current news or answering questions. Although a voice assistant can’t replace human conversation, it can help a senior feel less anxious and lonely. Voice assistants can also provide very useful information, such as the weather. Knowing that it will rain later can help mom know what time to take her walk to avoid getting caught in the rain.

Fall Detection Bracelet

There are a variety of fall detection bracelets and pendants on the market that can alert caregivers and authorities if a loved one has fallen. If you want professional monitoring 24/7, you could go with ADT Medical Alert Bracelet. This device can automatically detect if someone has fallen. The e-Domotica Wireless Fall Detection Bracelet is a Z-Wave device that automatically notifies you if your loved one has fallen. It can be connected to any hub that supports Z-Wave technology.