We’ve come a long way since the old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial that ruled the airways in the 80s and 90s. With the advancement of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled communication devices, connecting to loved ones near and far is easier than ever.
But while technological advances have provided caregivers with reliable systems to keep tabs on loved ones, it’s hard to sift through the different options to determine which method would work best for you and your loved one.
Even if you’re only down the hall, an efficient form of communication can help distinguish the urgent needs from requests that can wait for a more convenient time. Knowing when your loved one needs you is incredibly important in an instance where seconds can make a big difference. But it’s also important for you to be able to do activities that put you out of earshot from your loved one’s yelling.
These systems can provide peace of mind and convenience for both the caregiver and the individual in need, improving quality of life and the ability to do things like work in the yard or pop in headphones for a work call.
Alexa Together – Amazon Alexa, the ubiquitous voice-activated virtual assistant technology, has introduced a new service to help caregivers communicate with loved ones. This $19.99 subscription only requires the senior to have an Amazon Echo device and the caregiver to install the Alexa app on their mobile device—though video chatting is enabled if both individuals have an Echo Show. Alexa Together allows the setup of customized alerts, 24/7 urgent response, an activity feed, and fall-detection response via compatible devices. Caregivers can also receive activity alerts through the app to get an idea of what their loved one is doing.
Call bell – It’s low-tech, but this timeless alert still rings true when seniors need to get attention from caregivers in another room.
Apple Watch – An Apple Watch, when connected to cellular service or linked to an at-home Wi-Fi network, can be an effective, always-on means of communication for a senior. Apple’s Siri virtual assistant technology can be voice-activated, and newer models offer a heart rate monitor that can detect signs of atrial fibrillation and fall detection sensors that can alert first responders.
In-home pagers – This pager system allows seniors to easily alert caregivers when they need assistance from someone within the same home. It comes with two pagers but can be expanded with up to 55 transmitters depending on your need. The portable, waterproof “call pendant” buttons alert all receivers and are small enough to be worn around the neck.
Baby monitor – Home cameras can often provide caregivers and their loved ones peace of mind in the event of an emergency. A Wi-Fi-enabled baby monitor can sense and track motion in the home and is relatively easy to install, control and maintain. The 24/7 live stream is accessible via a smartphone, and two-way audio lets you listen and talk to loved ones in real time. Reviewers rave about this model’s ease of installation.
Wellness monitor – This blood pressure cuff transmits readings to a smartphone via Bluetooth wireless technology. In addition to monitoring blood pressure, this device also detects irregular heartbeats and allows caregivers to track trends and in the iHealth MyVitals companion app. While this only offers information when the senior uses the blood pressure cuff, it can be a useful tool in keeping tabs on a loved one’s blood pressure and heart rate to fend off issues before they arise.
Smart jewelry – This personal safety device is completely camouflaged as a pendant necklace. However, a double-press of the button on the back of the Bluetooth-enabled pendant immediately sends a text message with the wearer’s GPS location to up to five people as well as to first responders. It uses the same emergency response technology as home security company ADT, so you can feel confident help will be there when they need it most. And unlike smart watches, this pendant’s battery lasts about a year and does not need to be recharged.
These products not only help a loved one feel secure but also allow caregivers to check in on their senior without being intrusive or overbearing. Selecting the product – or products – that will help a senior feel more independent can result in a better relationship and greater feeling of comfort.