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How To Monitor Elderly Parents: Aging At Home Technology

The care of our aging parents is something many of us will be balancing along with working full-time jobs and taking care of our children. My husband and I went through this with his father who didn’t want to move to a nursing home. That was when we decided to research elderly monitoring systems.

Wondering which are the best ways to monitor older adults in their own home? More people are using electronic devices to monitor elderly parents, such as:

  • Grandparent monitors
  • Baby monitors for dementia patients
  • Movement sensors and wearable devices
  • A medical alert system, like Life Alert
  • Alexa’s Care Hub Skill

When Dad lived alone, he was not in the best of health. We wanted to get a remote monitor for him that would work no matter where he was as he went through his daily routines. It needed to detect falls and let us keep up with his whereabouts.

There are a lot of different types of monitors on the market that will do the job, so read on to find the best options for your situation.

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Monitoring Elderly Parents Remotely

There are multiple devices available to help you monitor an elderly family member remotely. 

They include Amazon’s Echo Show and video monitoring cameras like Blurams.  Also, motion sensor devices such as EnvoyAtHome are a good option for complete monitoring.

As the number of people over the age of sixty grows, most want to stay in their homes as long as possible. There will be a greater need to find ways to help them age in place.

This is where remote monitoring systems can be more useful than just relying on phone calls.

Today, the technology exists that can help track our elderly parents when they are at home alone and through all seasons. In the event of an emergency, help can be available at the touch of a button.

Remote monitoring technology actually began with baby monitors, because they could provide a video feed.

Today these monitors help adult children and caregivers to see, hear and respond to the needs of their elderly parents. This can be done while they are working, at school, or taking care of their children.

Having these systems in place can also give senior parents peace of mind. They know that emergency responders will be alerted if there is a fall situation or they have health problems.

Aging at home technology is a huge benefit to people whose needs are changing as they get older and become more likely to suffer falls or accidents at home.

This new technology is also a great way to look out for an elderly relative who has a cognitive decline or memory illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Today’s monitoring systems are really more like informal caregivers that can help with long-distance caregiving.

They allow people to track their older family members through the use of motion detectors, smartphone app alerts and GPS enabled devices.

Adult children, home care nurses, and caregivers can also monitor the physical health of ill patients because these remote monitoring systems do more than detect falls.

Personal emergency response systems can also alert caregivers if the elderly person is unable to get to a phone.

Types Of Remote Monitoring Systems For Elderly

The types of remote monitoring systems that can be used by caregivers of elderly parents range from full house sensors to wearables. 

Most come with Alexa enabled features as well as smart phone apps. These give the caregiver an easy way to monitor their senior loved ones.

These systems include monitors designed for grandparents to use to help them track each other. This is especially helpful if one or both of them are fall risks, have medical concerns, or are accident-prone.

There are also monitors for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

They have motion sensor systems that will alert caregivers and adult children if the patient leaves the house. Some even have a built-in GPS locator in case the person wanders outside in the middle of the night.

These systems often come with wearable electronic trackers and emergency buttons that use jewelry or lanyards.

Grandparent Monitor

Grandparent monitors are are passive monitoring systems that can track the movements and activities of an elderly loved one 24/7.

They usually come with a camera system that has motion detectors and panoramic capabilities for every room in the house.

These monitors are also capable of detecting falls, checking indoor temperatures, and helping shut-in seniors communicate with their family. Daily monitoring is done through user-friendly smartphone apps.

Below are 3 examples of excellent grandparent monitoring systems to consider.

Blurams Security Camera

The Blurams Home Pro Security Camera has WiFi capability with facial recognition. It also features advanced night vision and tracks elderly parents with motion detecting sensors combined with live video.

It The Blurams camera also provides a phone app that will alert family members and caregivers if there are unusual activities or if someone leaves the area of coverage.

It is Alexa-capable and has hands-free two way calling so you can talk to your parents and ask if they are okay.

You can access up to four cameras at a time so the home should be entirely covered. Plus it can be set up to blur certain areas of the home as a privacy zone.

Truesense Monitoring System

Trusense is another passive monitoring system. It helps to monitor loved ones by using panoramic cameras, motion detectors, contact sensors, wearable trackers that can detect falls and sensors to detect movements.

This system is great for elderly parents with cognitive or memory problems who could live at home where they would be comfortable, as opposed to living at a nursing facility. It, too, is Alexa-enabled.

EnvoyAtHome Motion Sensors

A fairly new product and service is the EnvoyAtHome Motion Sensors.  This involves placing motion sensors throughout your senior loved one’s house.  There are no cameras or audio devices. 

These sensors are then connected through an app on the caregivers’ phone.

Information is entered into the app about the daily routine of the person being monitored. 

The caregiver then gets alerts on their phone for events such as…

  • if the senior leaves the house
  • comes back into the house
  • spends an extra amount of time in the bathroom
  • what room they are currently in
  • what time they woke up
  • and other times as well

These monitored events are customizable. 

The point is that you will be able to “keep alerted” as to where your senior loved one is throughout the day.

Baby Monitors For Dementia Patients

There are several very useful full featured baby monitors that can help caregivers to remotely monitor an elderly parent or loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. 

The Infant Optics CSR-8 and the Tend Insights Lynx are just two that we can recommend.

Parents who have dementia and Alzheimer’s are the most difficult to monitor because of their erratic behavior.

Families who don’t want to put the person in a memory-care facility can keep track of them by using a baby monitor.

The last baby monitor I purchased was 30 years ago, and it was just a base and a receiver. We could not see the baby. We only could hear her when she cried.

However, baby monitors have come a long way since then. Now they come with many features that can also be used to monitor both pets and elderly parents, in addition to the baby!

A baby monitor with two-way audio, like the Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor, or a similar monitoring system is a great investment.

This one has the latest in monitoring technology, featuring cameras that have night vision, 360-degree rotation to cover the entire room, and room temperature monitors.

It is sound-activated and comes with 2-way audio so one or more caregivers can help with monitoring to keep their loved one safe and where both are free to move around the house.

Other monitors, such as the Tend Insights Lynx Indoor 2 System have facial recognition so you can choose who the camera watches and send alerts about their movements.

NOTE: facial recognition is not available in some states, so check the manufacturer’s website to be sure your area allows it before purchasing one.

Baby monitors used to limit caregivers to staying within certain ranges to keep the connection, but today most come with mobile apps.

Family and caregivers can now monitor a parent on their smartphones, IOS computers, Android computers, or tablets.

This way, they can be in the same house, or they can monitor a parent remotely from another house, at school, while shopping, etc. The apps will send alerts to their devices if there is a problem.

A baby monitor should be placed in strategic locations in every room, along with motion detectors and door sensors with alarms.This will help keep your elderly loved one from leaving the house.

Movement Sensors For The Elderly

Movement sensors, such as bed pads and area rugs, are available to help families and caregivers monitor elderly loved ones. They contain pressure sensors that will trigger an alarm to sound as soon as the person leaves the bed or steps on a rug.

The one we recommend is the Smart Caregiver mat.

The Smart Caregiver mat is a cordless mat with a cordless alarm. Some models have a smart outlet, as well, so you can plug in a bedside lamp.

When the senior gets out of bed and steps on the mat, the lamp turns on and the alarm simultaneously alerts a caregiver in another room.

The only caveat is that the senior would have to actually step on the floor mat for it to work. This device is only activated when pressure has been applied to the mat.

It can’t tell the difference between someone stepping on it or falling on it, so it is not helpful in detecting falls.

Movement sensors are also available as wearables such as necklaces, bracelets, and watches.

These contain sensors that are good for detecting falls if the senior is in the house and most have buttons the wearer can push if they have a medical emergency.

There are also some companies that have movement sensors people can wear both indoors and outdoors for fall detection.

Life Alert For Seniors

Finally, there is the monitoring company we are all familiar with, called Life Alert. This is the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” company.

They have been providing emergency alert services for seniors and people with medical problems 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for more than 32 years.

The Life Alert monitoring service works via a base station and a pendant that the senior wears around their neck.

There is also a wristband option. Both options can detect falls indoors or outdoors and will summon help if the senior has a medical emergency.

The Life Alert system doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all price.

There are separate charges for different components, depending on the type of system your loved one wants and whether they’ll need additional features like a HELP button or GPS capability.

Life Alert’s monitoring equipment also has necklaces or watches that can even be worn in the shower. Their HELP button is a shower-mounted button that can be activated in case the seniors has problems while bathing.

Life Alert’s personnel will respond whether the patient answers or not and will alert first responder services and the senior’s family.

Their services also include fire and intrusion which gives seniors and their families greater peace of mind.

Alexa’s Care Hub Skill

The great folks at Amazon have introduced a new senior care skill in their massive list of things that Alexa can do! It’s called Care Hub.

The new Alexa feature has been designed to help family caregivers monitor their older loved ones.

It works by creating a list of activities that the senior person performs using their Amazon Echo device, and if they ask Alexa for assistance, an alert will be sent to the caregiver’s smartphone.

So, if your elderly mother asks Alexa to play a specific song at 10:30 in the morning, that action gets put on a list (but not the specific song – just the fact that she made this request).

No details are provided but it’s a way for you to know that she is up and all seems well.

If there’s an emergency, your mother can ask for help and you will be notified via SMS, push notification and a phone call.

There are many ways that you can use Alexa’s Care Hub skill to help you monitor your elderly relatives (and by the way – it’s completely free). Check out more about that here.

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