Assistive technologies to help elderly seniors stay at home

Published 9:28am Friday, May 10, 2013

Monitoring systems

Another more sophisticated technology for keeping tabs on your mom is with a home monitoring system. These systems will let you know whether she is waking up and going to bed on time, eating properly, showering and taking her medicine.

They work through small wireless sensors (not cameras) placed in key locations throughout the home. The sensors will track her movements, learning her daily activity patterns and routines, and will notify you or other family members via text message, email or phone if something out of the ordinary is happening. For instance, if she went to the bathroom and didn’t leave it could indicate a fall or other emergency.

You can also check up on her patterns anytime you want through the system’s password-protected website. And for additional protection, most services offer SOS call buttons as well that can be placed around the house, or worn.

Some good companies that offer these services are BeClose (beclose.com, 866-574-1784), which runs $399 or $499 for the sensors, plus a $69 monthly service fee if paid a year in advance. And GrandCare Systems (grandcare.com, 262-338-6147), which adds a fantastic social component – through a senior-friendly computer – to go along with the activity monitoring. GrandCare leases for $150 to $300 per month.

Medication management

If you want to make sure your mom is keeping up with her medications, there are medication management devices you can now rent, that will dispense her medicine on schedule, provide constant reminders, and even notify you if her medicine is not taken. Two products that offer this are MedMinder (medminder.com, 888-633-6463), which rents for $40 per month, and the Philips Medication Dispensing Service (managemypills.com, 888-632-3261) that costs $75/month.

Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, Okla. 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

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