Monitoring Elderly Parents Remotely: The Solution for a Stress-Free Life

Based on your needs and resources, there are various ways to ensure safety by monitoring elderly parents remotely. Read our article to find out how! Continue reading

As caregivers — sons, daughters, grandchildren — we want to support our elderly loved ones even when we can’t be with them physically. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to ensure our aging parents go about their daily lives safely. For example, solutions that help with monitoring elderly parents remotely are always being refined.

We opt for these solutions primarily because the vast majority of older adults favor the concept of aging in place. This means they want to stay in their own homes as they get older (rather than going to a nursing home), and maintain as much of their independent lifestyle as possible.

This article will cover the various available elderly monitoring systems, as well as the criteria for choosing the best one for your loved ones.

What Are the Options for Monitoring Elderly Parents Remotely?

Monitoring solutions that are part of ‘aging at home’ technology are widely available on the market. Although they keep elderly parents safe, they are more effective if caregivers take some basic precautions as well.

Here Are Some Low-Tech Tips for Your Aging Parents’ Safety

elderly relative

Image: Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels

There are several things you can do right now:

• Make a L.I.F.E. kit (Lifesaving Information For Emergencies). It’s a simple plastic bottle or bag that contains vital information on the senior resident. Its purpose is twofold: to inform emergency personnel of a person’s medical conditions, and store the caregiver’s contact information.

It’s best to store the kit in the fridge so it’s kept secure in the event of a fire. Most emergency teams will know where to look. It’s also a good idea for the caregivers to hold on to a copy. We can forget the most basic items in an emergency, so having everything on hand can save lives.

• Buy a phone that your elderly parent will be able to use easily. It doesn’t have to be brand-new or cutting-edge. For those who need extra assistance (people with arthritis or visual impairment), there are specially designed phones on the market. They have larger buttons, voice commands, and a variety of other features for improved accessibility. Put the important numbers (911, the caregiver, the family doctor) on speed dial so your parent can use them easily.

• Install a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector. Perform regular inspections, according to the instructions. Also, make sure your elderly parent is familiar with the alarm sounds so that they do not panic in the event of an emergency.

• Install a backup generator that will automatically start in case of a power outage (but keep a flashlight near the bed too).

• Install motion-activated lights around the house if possible. Older individuals need uniformly dispersed light. Nightlights would also be beneficial (CareAlert has built-in sensors and nightlights—a device we will discuss later in the article).

If your elderly parent lives alone, it might be a good idea to inform the local police department so they can pay special attention when possible. This would be more appropriate if they lived in a small town, though.

• Install a security system and teach your parents how to use it.

We recommend reading or downloading AARP’s free guidebook for further ideas on how to increase accessibility and safety.

Aging at Home Technology that Helps with Monitoring Elderly Parents Remotely

Now that we’ve looked at a list of simpler solutions to assist aging parents, we will turn our attention to monitoring equipment that can also help make aging in place a stress-free choice.

In an emergency, elders can find it difficult to call for help, so dialing 911 or a caregiver’s phone number may be impossible. In that scenario, there are various traditional solutions available, as well as modern ones.

→ First of all, there are classic systems available on the market, known as PERS (personal emergency response systems). They consist of an emergency button that the senior can wear as a pendant or wristband. If they have an accident like tripping and falling, they can press a button that will connect them to a response center.

The agent will then dial the senior’s phone number, and if he or she doesn’t answer, the responder will dispatch an emergency crew to their home.

It’s a basic and straightforward solution, but it has a couple of drawbacks. For one, most insurance companies don’t cover the costs. Secondly, you must rely on the staff who handle the emergency calls but who may not be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The system also relies on the senior’s willingness or ability to seek help. The truth is, some people would rather not press the button because they wouldn’t want to ‘disturb’ anyone.

Mobile PERS work similarly but use GPS to send the call center location information.

→ Devices based on fall detection sensors can accurately distinguish between different types of movement. They are worn as pendants or belts wrapped around the chest. Like PERS, they depend on the availability of a call center, but they can also alert the caregiver of any emergency.

→ Cameras (‘Granny Cams’ or baby monitors) – there are many types of cameras that you can use in monitoring elderly parents remotely. Nursing homes also use them in public areas. As long as you have the person’s consent, video surveillance is legal; yet, it raises a few ethical and practical concerns. Your elderly parent may oppose it, and you may not be able to monitor and interpret their every move.

→ Home Sensors – There are various systems based on home sensors, but the idea is the same: the motion detectors are mounted in important rooms of the house or even on certain objects like home appliances. That way, the sensors can detect whether the elders are going about their daily routines or if there are any changes in their behaviour.

→ Machine learning-based elderly monitoring systems – Over the years, our team at SensorsCall has perfected CareAlert, a system based on Artificial Intelligence and deep learning, in which the interference engine analyzes data points recorded by 10 sensors (such as temperature, humidity, indoor air quality, motion, and sound). Unlike its traditional counterparts, this system also includes a mobile application that provides caregivers with information about their aging parents’ well-being. The best part is that the system improves as it learns about the seniors’ behaviour.

CareAlert may also connect with FDA-approved devices to display vital signs such as oxygen levels, pulse, blood pressure, and body temperature. That way, caregivers know at all times if their parents are alright.

CareAlert Wellness Dashboard

CareAlert Wellness Dashboard

Moreover, it respects your privacy because it does not record audio or video, nor does it share personal information.

One drawback is that it does not yet include a fall sensor, but the system should alert you of any unusual behaviour in a senior’s daily routine. A longer-than-usual shower, for example, can set off an alarm that could signal a fall. Or, its accelerometer can detect unusual floor movement by picking up motion on the floor and the wall.

Monitoring Elderly Parents Remotely: What is the Best Device for You?

older family members

Image: RODNAE Productions | Pexels

Different situations require different solutions, so ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does the device respond to their particular needs?

It depends mostly on the elderly parent’s health status and how much help or supervision they need.

2. Can the senior in question use it with ease (after a learning period)?

The accessibility factor seems to be most important according to a 2019 study that showed a reluctance in older adults to adopt aging at home technology if it wasn’t easy enough to use. This is somewhat understandable since older adults oftentimes have limited mobility and visual capacity.

3. How private and discreet is it?

The study mentioned above also showed that 87% of seniors are concerned with data privacy, and don’t trust devices that ask for a large amount of data to offer accurate results. This is partly because their generation was exposed to technology much later in life.

Developers and caregivers alike should respond to their concerns with respect and empathy. Being transparent about how a monitoring system works is also important. This way, we will be able to improve technology literacy and use such devices to empower the elderly.

4. Does it fit into your budget?

A good idea would be to check what your elderly parent’s insurance company covers. There are also certain hospitals or social service organizations that can offer a discount for certain systems.

5. Does it require a lot of maintenance (switching batteries, recharging)?

Checking up on the device or devices regularly can make remote care more difficult, so you would need to find the best solution based on your availability as a caregiver.

6. Is the device effective in detecting emergencies and abnormal behaviour?

Machine learning devices would be the most reliable option from this point of view because they can interpret data gathered by sensors around the home. They can also predict outcomes and provide a thorough but easy-to-understand analysis to the user (the caregiver).

Conclusions

remote monitoring systems

Image: CareAlert | SensorsCall.com

It may seem stressful if, as a caregiver, you realize you have to make lots of adjustments to ensure your elderly parent’s safety and well-being when they’re living alone at home. Just take it one step at a time and remind yourself of why you’re doing this.

Another thing to consider when monitoring elderly parents remotely is to keep your parents involved in the process. Teach them how to use modern equipment so that they feel empowered. After all, aging in place is a lifestyle choice that helps maintain a positive outlook on life.

Our team at SensorsCall is here to take some of the pressure away and ensure you and your loved ones the peace of mind you need.

Don’t hesitate to contact us at support@sensorscall.com if you want to find out more about our elderly monitoring system or need help deciding if such a device is suitable for you and your loved ones.

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