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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 electronic monitoring systems.

How to monitor elderly parents? More people are using electronic devices to monitor elderly parents, such as:

  • Grandparent monitors
  • Baby monitors for dementia patients
  • Movement sensors for the elderly
  • Life alert for seniors

When Dad lived alone and was not in the best of health, we wanted to get a remote monitor for him that would work no matter where he was and what he was doing in the house. 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 it, so read on to find which one will work best for your situation.

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Aging At Home Technology: Monitoring Elderly Parents Remotely

As the number of people over the age of sixty grows, most want to stay in their homes as long as possible. With that said, there will be a greater need to find ways to help them age in place, and this is where remote monitoring systems can be most useful. Today, the technology exists that can help track our elderly parents when they are at home alone, which means that help can be available at the touch of a button if they need it.

Remote monitoring technology actually began with baby monitors, but today it helps adult children and caregivers see, hear and respond to the needs of their elderly parents while they are working, at school, or taking care of their children. Having these systems in place also give senior parents peace of mind from knowing that emergency services will respond if there is a fall situation or a medical problem.

In addition to being a benefit to people whose needs are changing as they get older and become more likely to suffer falls or accidents at home, aging at home technologies can help the families of people who have cognitive or memory illnesses. Now, monitoring systems can help their loved ones track them through the use of motion detectors and alerts.

The advances in remote monitoring system technologies have opened doors for adult children, home care nurses, and caregivers to put systems in place that can also monitor the physical health of ill patients. This type of remote monitoring systems does more than detect falls; they can also help keep elderly parents who have illnesses safe by alerting caregivers if the person is too sick to get to a phone.

Types Of Remote Monitoring Systems For Elderly

There are a variety of monitors available with many features for the care of the elderly. Most of them are user-friendly for both caregivers and patients. These include monitors designed for grandparents to use to help them track each other, which is great to have if one or both people are fall risks, have medical concerns, or are accident-prone.

There are also monitors for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s that have motion sensors that will alert caregivers and adult children if the patient leaves the house. These monitors often come with wearable electronic trackers like jewelry or lanyards.

Grandparent Monitor

Grandparent monitors are passive monitoring systems that can track the movements and activities of an elderly loved one 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They come with cameras that have 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.

Examples of grandparent monitoring systems are the Blurams Home Pro Security Camera, which has WiFi capability with facial recognition and advanced night vision.

This technology tracks elderly parents with motion detecting sensors combined with live video. It comes with a phone app that will alert family members and caregivers if there are unusual activities or if someone leaves the area of coverage.

It also is Alexa-capable and had 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.

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

Baby Monitors For Dementia Patients

Parents who are Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients are the most difficult to monitor because of their erratic behavior, but families who don’t want to put them in a nursing home can keep track of them by using a baby monitor. This is good for the patient who might be restrained if they lived in a nursing home and allows the caregiver to get a break because they know they can respond to the ill parent when needed.

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, just hear her when she cried. However, baby monitors have come a long way since I purchased one. Now they come with many features that can also be used to monitor pets and elderly parents.

A baby monitor with two-way audio, like this 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 where 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 apps where family and caregivers can monitor a parent on their smartphones, IOS computers, Android computers, or tablets. This way, they can either be in the same house, or they can monitor a patient remotely from another house, school, shopping. The apps will send alerts to their devices if there is a problem.

A baby monitor should be placed in every room, along with motion detectors and door sensors with alarms to keep the patient 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 patients. They contain pressure sensors that will trigger an alarm to sound as soon as the patient leaves the bed or steps on a rug, such as 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 patient would have to actually step on the floor mat for it to work. This device only know 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 patient 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 or will summon help if the patient 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 includes 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 include fire and intrusion which gives seniors and their families greater peace of mind.

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