The Technology for Monitoring Elderly Relatives
“IF I ever need to go to a nursing home, kill me first.”…
For those with advanced physical ailments, the ability to contact emergency personnel may not be enough. It wasn’t for Jean Roberts, a 79-year-old retired nurse who had a brain aneurysm 20 years ago, and now suffers from a seizure disorder. She and her daughter, Carol, 52, who is also disabled, set up a system of customized sensors from GrandCare Systems (grandcare.com).
With GrandCare, which averages between $15 and $25 a day, Carol receives cellphone alerts whenever a user-defined set of parameters is breached in her mother’s nearby Daytona Beach, Fla., home.
“I used to call and check on her constantly,” Carol said. “If she gets confused, she wouldn’t remember to push a pendant.”
Carol is automatically alerted if her mother’s front doors are opened before 7 a.m. or after 10 p.m., and a bed sensor alerts her if her mother doesn’t get out of bed by 9 a.m.
If her mother’s home is too hot or too cold, she knows that, too. And if her mother begins to get confused and wanders rapidly from room to room, her daughter also receives an alert.
To help the elder Ms. Roberts feel more connected, she can receive e-mail messages and photographs through the GrandCare system, displayed on her TV or an available touch-screen display.
As her mother ages, Carol expects to add other features. “If she gets worse, we’ll write another parameter, that she can’t leave the house unless I’m notified,” she said. “She has no intention — none — of going into an assisted-care facility.”
For the monitoring of symptoms associated with heart failure and diabetes, Ideal Life (ideallifeonline.com) in Toronto offers a number of devices, including a scale, a blood-pressure meter and a glucose monitor that automatically send data to the company’s Web site, where it can be examined by a caregiver. Text messages or e-mail alerts can also be sent automatically to a caregiver’s smartphone.