Worries and anxieties for mum and dad increase as they get older, especially if we don’t live around the corner from them. Integrating ‘Smart’ home technology into your elderly parent’s homes can help to alleviate these worries.
Research by The Centre for Better Ageing revealed that older people have embraced technology during 2020. The biggest change is in relation to video calling with three quarters (75%) of those surveyed now doing it more often. If you’re concerned your parents won’t adapt well to technology, be reassured by a recent TalkTalk survey which revealed there to be a 42% increase in internet usage by over 75s over the last year.
Now is the time for families to embrace this new eagerness to learn and use smart technology to help elderly relatives feel safe and connected in their own home. Whatever your concerns are about your elderly relative’s safety, there is likely to be a ‘Smart’ home solution. We have outlined six common worries, and helpful technology for the elderly living alone.
1) Smart technology solution to scammers
Are you worried about your relative opening the door to scammers? Sadly, scammers look to take advantage of older people. This is a greater worry now more than ever, as scammers know that older people are likely to be at home, potentially on their own.
ring Video Door Bell 3, £179
Video door bells allow you to see who is at your door without having to open it, meaning you don’t have to open the door to unexpected visitors. This neat little gadget detects goes one further, and detects motion when people come to your door and sends instant notifications to your phone, tablet or PC.
Age Space likes: There’s no need to rush to answer the door as you can see, hear and speak to visitors in real time from anywhere in the house. The ring Video Door Bell 3 is a great way of avoiding unwelcome callers and therefore reducing scamming potential.
2) Smart technology solution to falls
Are you worried about your elderly relative having a fall? Having a fall is one of the biggest worries for elderly people living alone, particularly if you are unable to contact a relative or ambulance for help. Personal alarm devices for the elderly living alone can make a real difference.
Buddi GPS Fall Detector, £203 plus £22 a month
Buddi is a GPS alarm, housed within a comfortable silicone wrist strap with an integrated fall detector and alarm button. The Buddi wrist band sends a signal to a clip that can be attached to clothing, keys or carried in a handbag and which dials through to a 24/7 monitoring centre.
Age Space likes: The design is similar to that of a Fitbit, so perfect for the more image conscious user. Plus, mobile technology means the alarm works anywhere as the operator can communicate directly via a small microphone in the clip. The integrated GPS is perfect for family, carers or emergency services needing to locate the user too.
The buddi alarm is one of our top personal alarms for the elderly. You can read more about it, as well as others, from our Guide to the Best Personal Alarms for the Elderly.
3) Smart technology solution to spotting changes in behaviour
Are you worried that you won’t know if your parent’s behaviour changes? Changes in behaviour or routine can be one of the first signs of a change in physical or mental health, such as dementia. While we are able to see our elderly relatives less often this Winter, however, these changes in routine or behaviour can be hard to spot. The elderly care technology listed below can help you.
Howz Home Care Kit, £199 plus £9 a month
The Howz Home Care Kit is a combination of door sensor, motion sensor and smart plug, designed to monitor routines and trigger an alert if there’s a problem. The Howz Smart Plug can be connected to a regularly used appliance such as a kettle or toaster and will confirm that a person is up and keeping to their routine.
Age Space likes: It’s not too intrusive – no cameras or microphones, just simple infrared sensors. Plus, the intelligent timer constantly counts down to the next ‘checkpoint’ of an individual’s routine and if a checkpoint passes by without any activity detected, Howz will alert you immediately via an app on your smart phone or tablet, Amazon Alexa, Google Echo or PC.
SECOM CareTech Care Alert, price on a case-by-case basis
The Care Alert allows you to get instant phone notifications about what matters to you and your relative. Whether it’s a change in temperature, your relative being in the bathroom unusually long, or reminders to take medication, the Care Alert can be tailored to your needs.
Age Space likes: It’s flexible – you only receive notifications about the things that you choose to receive them about. It is also not too intrusive as it has no cameras or microphones, the door sensors are all wireless and the motion sensors are discrete.
4) Smart technology solution to forgetting medication
Are you worried that your parents will forget to take their pills? Forgetting to take pills can be a real problem, particularly for people living with dementia. It can be tiring to constantly call your parents to check that they have taken the medicine they were supposed to. Automatic pill dispensers are one of the most helpful gadgets for older adults living alone.
Pivotell® Advance GSM Automatic Pill Dispenser with SMS messaging, £198
If you are caring for someone remotely and want to make sure they’re taking their medication, this Automatic Pill Dispenser a great gadget. At the pre-programmed times, the dispenser rotates, the alarm signal is heard, and the correct dosage comes into view through the opening in the lid. The alarm can be programmed to ring for up to 5 hours.
Age Space likes: The dispenser sends text messages to up to three family members or carers to confirm that medication has or has not been dispensed from the device at the specified time. If the user has a mobile phone, he or she can then be sent one of six messages to help them manage their medication. Plus, the self-locking shutter over the lid opening prevents access to the medication tray except at the alarm time, reducing the risk of double dosing.
5. Smart technology solution to video calls
Are you worried that video-calling services are too difficult for your relative to use? Video-calling is a great way to keep in touch with your relative and have a proper face-to-face conversation, but many older people struggle to set-up and use the most popular video calling systems. Thankfully, there is now useful technology for the elderly living alone who need a simpler way of video-calling.
CallGenie Appliance with HD Webcam, £429.99
The callGenie is an easy-to-setup video call system that allows the user to automatically answer Skype calls on their Television. No additional devices with remote controls. Once set up it simply turns the television on when an incoming call is made by anyone in the restricted contacts list and switches it back to its original state after the call. The bundle includes an HD Logitech webcam.
Age Space likes: callGenie makes face-to-face video communication with relatives easier than ever because it isn’t dependent on the user’s ability to use a smartphone or tablet. It’s a great way to communicate for older people who are less confident with tech.
6) Smart technology solution to feeling intrusive
Are you worried that your relative is finding your support too intrusive? As our parents get older, we can easily become worried about a range of things – or worried generally. Have they had a fall?; have they remembered to take their pills?; are they feeling lonely? We may not always know why we are checking in with our parents, other than to confirm that they are okay. For some older people this support can feel intrusive, especially if they are proud of remaining independent.
Sentai, price TBC
Sentai uses artificial intelligence to provide tailored support to older people that live independently. It can provide gentle nudges in the right direction, from remembering when to take pills to a reminder that their favourite TV show is starting soon. Sentai has discreet heat and motion sensors, and can provide real-time updates to carers, providing peace of mind.
Age Space likes: Sentai offers a bit of everything. The way it speaks and offers gentle reminders is comforting and feels like company, but it is also fully equipped to identify and escalate in an emergency situation. A great piece of technology to help elderly people living alone at home.