Many new technologies have been developed to help adults ensure that their older loved ones are safe...
A basic form of this system—the personal emergency response system (PERS)—has been around for years. With a PERS, a person wears a device (panic button) that sends out a call for help if needed. The problem is that many who have such a device don't wear it or aren't alert enough to hit the button if they fall or become ill.
High-tech home-monitoring systems (which still offer the panic-button feature) require no input from the person being cared for. They work through wireless motion sensors placed throughout the senior's home and collect information on activities of daily living, such as getting out of bed, using the bathroom, eating and taking medicine. The system establishes the person's routines so it can detect when there are changes to those patterns, such as a person failing to leave the bedroom in the morning. Alerts are sent to the caregiver via phone or Email. Family members also can check on their loved one's patterns via the system's secure Web site. Companies that offer this product...
- QuietCare. A leader in the industry and the first to offer this service.
Cost: Less than $300, plus about $90 a month for monitoring (varies by area). 866-216-4600, www.quietcaresystems.com.
- Healthsense. Offers a more comprehensive monitoring system that allows you to keep an eye on just about everything. With a variety of sensors, you can monitor such things as sleep patterns, shower and toilet use, whether the stove has been left on, when your loved one has left the house, etc.
Cost: $1,300, plus $60 for monthly monitoring, though prices vary depending on tier of service and size of the home. 800-576-1779, www.healthsense.com.
- GrandCare. In addition to monitoring, this system has a small computer that connects to the Internet and plugs into the TV, allowing family members to share pictures, E-mails, appointment reminders and more on a dedicated TV channel.
Cost: $2,000 to $2,500, plus a $30 to $50/month monitoring fee, depending on the service. 262-338-6147, www.grandcare.corn.
Remembering to take medications is a challenge for many seniors. The MD.2 system can help organize medications and dispense them on schedule. It also provides multiple reminders to take the medication. Caregivers are alerted if necessary. The system can be monitored via the Internet.
Cost: $845, plus a $30 monthly monitoring fee, or it can be rented for less than $100 per month, but cost will vary by distributor. 800-549-0095, www.epill.com.
Helpful: www.epill.com offers a full line of medication-reminder products and services. 800-549-0095.
VIDEO CHAT SERVICE
An online video chat service allows you to speak to and see each other. It is easy to set up, though both parties need a computer, webcam and high-speed or broadband Internet connection. Two services are Windows Live Messenger (get.live.com) and SightSpeed (www.sightspeed.com).
All-in-one videophones (from such companies as www.8x8.com and www.ojoservices.com) also can provide this service.
Cost: About $350 to $450 per phone, plus $15 to $20 per month.