Monitoring Aging Parents From Afar: A Helpful Guide To 40+ Systems
Living with my elderly mom I know pretty much what she is getting into during the day. But for adults who have elderly parents with whom they don’t live, a lot of time and energy can be spent worrying about them.
Monitoring aging parents form afar, can be achieved using
- passive activity monitoring systems
- medical alerts
- smart home systems
- fall detectors
- GPS location trackers
- some apps
This article a guide to 40 plus systems available at present.
How to start the monitoring discussion with parents ?
In-home monitoring –
- How do systems decide there’s a problem and, how will I know ?
- What about monitoring centers ?
- Do the systems have medical alerts ?
- What do I have to do to monitor my parents with an activity monitoring system ?
- Can I get anything less elaborate ?
Here are some systems for monitoring elderly parents from afar
- Walabot Home by Vayyar – available in the US
- Family Guardian by Medical Guardian – available in the US
- GrandCare – available in US and just starting out in UK
- Assured Living by Best Buy -available in US
- Zanthion SMART Senior Care Platform – available in the US
- TruSense – available in the US
- Canary Care – available in the UK
- Howz – available in the UK
- Hive Link – available in the UK
- Hive Smart Home System – available in the US and the UK
- Wellness Insights and WellCam by Alarm.com – available in the US
- SimpliSafe available in the US and the UK
- CareCoach -available in US
Mobile monitoring –
- How can I monitor my elderly parents outside of the home ?
- What are my mobile monitoring options ?
- Where can I get a mobile system with a 24/7 monitoring center ?
Mobile systems with 24/7 monitoring centers in the US
Mobile systems with 24/7 monitoring centers in the UK
Unmonitored mobile devices in the US
Unmonitored mobile devices in the UK
- How can I monitor and stop the bathtub and sinks from overflowing ?
- The stove can be very dangerous how can I monitor that ?
- How can I check that my parent is eating ?
- How can I check that my parent is out of bed ?
- How can I know my parent is taking their medications ?
- Can I monitor my parents’ medications with an app ?
How do I get my parents to accept me monitoring their activity ?
Telling your elderly parents that you want to set up an activity monitoring system is probably not going to send them into rapture.
For those people with very elderly parents, or fragile parents, or where dementia has been diagnosed, I don’t think that you’ll meet with too much resistance, and the conversation should be an easy one, as your worries will be warranted, and your parents should see that.
If you have parents who are not yet having problems, and are not aware that you are starting to worry, it’s best to take the conversation slowly.
Firstly let your loved one know that you worry about not being there if something happens.
See how they react, and if it’s positive, you may discover that they worry about it too, and you can have a conversation about the options.
If your loved one brushes off your attempt to talk about it, you need to give them time to think – don’t push on and try to force them into to doing something straight away, or you’ll just keep on meeting with resistance.
Leave it a while and try again. You need to plant the seed in their minds.
You need also to explain that your mom, or dad, can have an activity monitoring system which doesn’t require them to do a thing, but which will allow them to stay independent and safe at the same time, and will stop you from worrying unnecessarily.
Maybe, if needs be, you choose a system which looks like it is leaning toward security, rather than towards you checking up on your parents activities.
This will make less of a dent in their pride, as some parents may be struggling with the role reversal, and feeling as though they are now be treated like the children.
And if your parents don’t want cameras for example, these systems I will be looking at can all work without cameras, and still do their job well.
If it helps make it sound as though it is your problem, and not your loved one’s.
Always go slowly so that you don’t cause any arguments which will really make them adamant that you are just interfering.
And remember that you do need your parents’ consent to monitor them, unless you have power of attorney to take decisions for them.
Let’s start with In-home activity monitoring systems
All the systems and devices that I am looking at to monitor elderly parents from afar use sensors to passively monitor their activity.
It’s possible to purchase either “in-home” systems which mostly use the internet, or “mobile” mobile systems which will work anywhere that there is a cellular network signal.
For an “in-home” system you simply place sensors around the home at specific locations to discretely monitor your loved ones’ activities, and for the mobile systems your loved one carries a small device with built in software on them.
How do “in-home” activity monitoring systems decide when there is a problem, and how will I know ?
- some systems are designed to learn the routines or “patterns” of their users, and then to spot changes to those “patterns” which may reflect an incident, such as a fall, or the start of a health problem, such as getting up and wandering around the home in the night – the system will alert the caregivers with notifications on their smart devices
- certain systems, as well as monitoring your loved ones routines, also provide Telehealth services as part of their system, such as monitoring blood glucose, blood oxygen, blood pressure, weight and temperature, with devices which automatically load the information into the system wirelessly – caregivers and doctors can then check the data, and even receive alerts if anything is wrong – this can be of great help to the elderly with chronic conditions
- other systems, let you set up what are called “actions” which can trigger alerts to you, or to a monitoring center- you decide which sensors will have what “actions” e.g. if there is a motion sensor in the bedroom, you can set it to alert you if your loved one has not got out of bed by 10am – using these “actions” you can create a whole series of rules which when they are triggered will send you an alert
- I have also included systems which are hybrid security/smart home /and medical alert – it’s very easy to set the system to send you notifications when a sensor is triggered by an action, such as a door opening, and this, coupled with the security side and the medical alert, makes for a comprehensive system
What about monitoring centers ?
Some systems have 24/7 monitoring centers with trained operators who are there to take any alert calls which come form your loved ones.
The operators in these cases will let you know if something has happened.
You may have the choice of having the 24/7 monitoring center, or not, and that is entirely up to you.
If you choose not to have it, you will receive all the alerts and notifications to your smart devices.
Do these systems have medical alerts ?
Some of these sensor systems have medical alerts and some don’t, but what they all have in common is that none work outside of the home.
For outside of the home, some systems may have a Mobile Tracking Device and Automatic Fall Detection as an add-on product, if they don’t you will have to find one from another company. Don’t worry I have a list of those later.
What do I have to do to monitor my parents with an activity monitoring system ?
Once the systems are set up – some systems you have to set up, and some are set up by the companies – you will receive the monitoring information on your smartphone and other devices, through an app, without your loved ones doing a thing.
On most apps you will be able to see, if your parents have done something which triggered a sensor. You will see that, by going and checking into an activity log where there is usually an event time line. You may also receive an activity alert notification on your phone.
The more complicated systems will let you decide when you are to receive notifications/alerts, and what should trigger those. This is known as setting up notification rules, or actions.
If you purchase a system with 24/7 monitoring, the operators at the monitoring center will take care of any emergency situations, the response required for that, and also notify any contacts when something happens.
If you do not get 24/7 monitoring with the system, then you and the other designated contacts will receive all the alerts, and you will have to take care of the emergencies, and make all the decisions.
Where do I start to look ?
To start I’m going to take you through fully integrated monitoring systems which have been made to work as packages for monitoring the whole home.
Here are some inhome systems for monitoring elderly parents from afar
Walabot Home by Vayyar – available in the US
This is a brand new system, and I have been on the lookout for it, as it is the best radio wave 3D imaging technology on the market today.
Walabot Home is a new in-home automatic fall detection and medical alert system, which monitors your loved one’s body position like no other.
It does not have a 24/7 monitoring center, the job of answering the alerts is left up to your loved one’s caregivers and family.
The system can see if a person is standing, sitting or lying down, and so can detect falls.
There are no cameras, no buttons, no wearables – your parents will love that !
- You simply place the main device on your loved one’s walls depending on how many rooms you wish to cover
- the device activates a two way voice call so that your loved one can speak with you or the other contacts immediately after the fall, and sends a text message – the device has a speakerphone on it so it can receive calls
- there are relay devices you can put up in other rooms depending on how big the home is
- if your loved one cannot speak or is unconscious, the alert is still sent to the selected caregiver on their smartphone – presently 4 contacts are allowed
- you can also push the screen on the device at any time to activate a call
- you can also disable the alarm
- if you are having a problem and cannot speak to raise the alarm you can just lie on the floor and the device will activate the alert call
Family Guardian by Medical Guardian – available in the US
The Family Guardian is a in-home combined medical alert and passive activity monitoring system with 24/7 monitoring centers.
The system –
- is comprised of a bases station, 2 activity sensors, a door sensor, a medical alert button and the app – you can add fall detection, additional help buttons and a voice activated wall help button at extra cost
- once you have downloaded the app to your smartphones and created an account, you will be able to check two activity reports based on sensor activity – one for the last 24 hrs – “Day Story” and one for the previous week – “Weekly Activity”
- your smartphone will automatically receive notifications regarding activity and inactivity in the home, including – Wake and Well: your parent is up and active in the morning; Non-Activity: the sensors are not detecting any activity; Door Left Open: the front door has been left open for a long period of time; Panic Alert: your parent has pressed the medical alert button to call the monitoring center for help
- when your parent calls the monitoring station they will be able to talk through the base station’s speaker systems with the operators who will send the appropriate assistance
- the fall detection pendant will, when it detects a fall, automatically signal the base station to call the monitoring center for help
The system is paid for on a subscription basis
GrandCARE – available US and just starting in the UK
GrandCARE Systems is an activity monitoring hub, a Telehealth system, a medical button (for alerts), and a tool for connecting with your family and your community.
There is no 24/7 monitoring center, all the monitoring is watched over by the caregivers and family members.
The system based around a large, and easy to use touch screen, which is used by your loved one.
The system is split into 3 areas –
- “Community connecting with family and friends” where the system and app lets the family share videos, letters, photos, place video calls, make and set appointments and reminders, and make video calls, through a “Care Portal”
- “Activity and Environmental Sensing” uses activity monitoring sensors to track your loved one’s routines, and to show when irregular activities occur, which caregivers and family can check any time. The caregivers and family can have the system send them alerts on their smartphones when their loved one does particular things – such as opening the fridge. This is known as “setting rules”, and you can set many as you want in the system’s app. It lets you know that your loved one is going about their activities as usual.
- “Health and Wellness” supports a range of Telehealth monitoring devices – blood pressure monitors, scales, pulse oximeters, glucometers and thermometers, which will automatically upload the data to the “Care Portal” where any medical staff and caregivers can see the results. Notifications can be organized in the app, to be sent to the caregivers’ smartphones depending on the results
Assured Living – available in parts of the US
Assured Living can be both a medical alert system and a activity monitoring system.
You can have a medical alert button, a 24/7 monitoring service (available with select packages), and a system of sensors which track and establish activity patterns in the home throughout the day.
Assured Living is paid for on a monthly subscription.
The system –
- the basic kit comprises – control panel, motion sensor, bed pressure sensor and door sensor
- after about one month the system will have established what it understands as normal routines
- the system then monitors activity looking for irregular activity
- if the system spots any behavior, or activity patterns out of the ordinary, it will send real-time alerts to caregivers and family on their smartphones
- users can also set up custom alerts to notify you when a certain activity occurs – opening doors, when your parent gets out of bed, when they open the fridge
- there is a medical alert push button which your parent can use to connect with emergency services if they have a problem
- you can add smart home devices to the system and remotely access them from your smartphone
If you are a member of the AARP you get a 10% discount on the monthly subscriptions to Assured Living
Zanthion SMART Senior Care Platform
– available in the US
Zanthion is a passive monitoring system which also has a medical alert button and Automatic Fall Detection.
It does not have a 24/7 call center, but it allows your loved one to have as many people added to their system as they want.
The In-home system is based around an app called Zanthion Mobile Client.
The System –
- the sensors – Activity Tracker, Window and Door Sensor, Motion Sensor, Bed Exit Sensor, Toilet Flush Sensor, and a medical alert button
- all of the sensors are linked to the app through a gateway and you can see in real time what is going on
- when there is an alert of some kind, everyone who has the app and is a contact will get a notification, and you can tailor the alerts to your needs
- I love this bit – all of your loved ones contacts can use the app when they are responding to an alert, to let the other caregivers know that they are on their way, or if they are there, and if they have called the emergency services, or whatever other action they are taking
- the system has “Event Assessment” – the contacts who responded can fill in an event assessment on their smartphone that all other contacts can see and keep up to date with
For this system you will have to buy the equipment and pay a monthly subscription.
TruSense – available in the US
TruSense is an In-home passive activity monitoring system with 24/7 emergency monitoring, with a health and wellness managing system.
If desired a mobile medical alert with GPS can be added.
You have to buy the equipment and also to pay monthly subscriptions for the monitoring service.
The System –
- the system is comprised of a basic kit – a central hub, a smart socket, a door/window sensor, 4 motion sensors and Amazon Echo Dot
- there is an add-on option of a GPS tracker with fall detection for when you go out
- there is an app which provides the real-time data, so you can track your loved ones activities at any time
- you can set rules for the the system to send alert notifications if your parent does, or does not, do particular things, so you can make sure they are following their normal routines
- with Amazon Echo Dot you can voice activate the system, so you can voice call the emergency monitoring service from any room you put them in, at any time
- TruSense can alert you if a probable fall occurs – an alert is triggered when it detects that your loved one has not moved from high-risk fall areas (such as a bathroom) in an unusually long time
- you can add health monitoring devices which monitor a range of chronic conditions – medication adherence, weight management, asthma, COPD, blood oxygen levels, Hypertension/Pre-Hypertension with their Blood Pressure Monitor and Blood Glucose for Diabetes
- TruSense also has a device for tracking a car
- smart soles are available for shoes for tracking if your loved ones wander
- a leak sensor is also available
Canary Care – available in the UK
Canary Care is an in-home passive activity monitoring system.
There is no 24/7 monitoring center with operators, so that the caregivers and family members are responsible for responding to alerts.
The system –
- it is comprised of a central hub and a number of door/window sensors, motion sensors, temperature sensors, visitor cards
- it is possible to customize by buying extra sensors, but the max the hub can handle is 10 sensors
- with the system’s app , in the “Canary Care Portal”, you can see your loved ones activities
- to receive alerts of “irregular activities” on your smartphone, you have to tell the system what these may be by setting rules, for example, “if mom gets up in between 10 pm and 9 am notify me”, and you will receive alerts via text and/or email prompting from the system
- there are also visitor cards, so if you have scheduled caregivers you can see if they have checked in or not, and if they are still there
Howz – available in the UK
Howz is a passive activity monitoring system which establishes your parents’ routines and patterns of activity.
There is no 24/7 monitoring center, medical alert button, or automatic fall detection, the caregivers and family members will have to respond to the alerts.
There is an equipment fee and a monthly subscription.
The System –
- comprised of a hub, a motion sensor, a smart plug and a door sensor
- there is just the one kit
- the system itself decides when you should receive alerts about your loved one, once it has established their routine
- the alerts are received on your smart device.
- the app shows your loved one’s activity timeline which the family and caregivers can see
- if there are any changes in the established routine notification alerts will be sent to caregivers and families on their smart devices by the app
- the idea is to spot any changes in routines which may indicate any health concerns before they get serious
Hive Smart Home system, has a UK only service called Hive Link. It’s a passive monitoring system developed for the elderly using sensors around the home.
There is no 24/7 monitoring center, this is all down to the caregivers and family.
Hive make it very clear that they provide no medical assistance or advice and that this is not a medical service – no fall detection, or alert buttons to press.
The system is only available with the Pro Premier subscription.
The System –
- the system is comprised of Hive Hub, 3 Hive Plugs, 2 Hive Motion Sensors and 2 Hive window and door sensors
- Hive Link comes with an app which all the caregivers and family download to their smartphones which creates a “Share Circle”
- Hive Link monitors the activity patterns of the your loved ones over 7 – 14 days, and establishes their routines
- if you parent doesn’t get up at the usual time, doesn’t turn on the kettle, doesn’t open the fridge, gets up at odd times in the night, if the front door or a window opens at night, you will receive alerts on your smartphone if you are one of the “Share Circle”, as these things aren’t part of their usual routine
Hive Smart Home System – available in the US and UK
The Hive Smart Home sensors can work for you as a monitoring system if you configure the set up to do so.
Hive works to create a system of “actions” (just like “rules” mentioned on other services), which you set to make the system send you alerts on the Hive App when the sensors detect certain things.
When an “action” occurs the system will send the users an alert with a notification.
You are able to use the system to tell you when a cupboard is opened, when a door is opened, when movement is sensed and so on.
You build your system of actions around what you want to know about what your parent is doing.
There are two extra things you can also do –
- you can also use the “actions” to do things such as switch on lights if your parents get up in the night, so they don’t trip, and also set an alert so you know they are getting up in the night
- you can add the indoor cameras to your system, and also an outdoor camera as well, which will give you a security aspect to your set up – the indoor cameras have two way communication as well
Unfortunately there is no doorbell.
You must not confuse Hive with Hive Link which is a different product by the same company.
The system has no medical alert, or fall detection.
Wellness Insights and WellCam by Alarm.com – available in the US
Customers of Alarm.com, who have their security system, can also get a passive activity monitoring system.
This makes an in-home security, emergency response and home monitoring system all rolled into one.
And if you want Fall detection as well you can add that too.
You can have this with or without the indoor cameras.
The system will –
- monitor patterns of the user for sleeping, eating, sitting, walking, bathroom use, cooking, medications etc to establish their routines
- it will then establish behavioral changes to find emergent problems for example if the user is not eating regularly
- you have access to a secure web portal to check your loved one’s data
- set automation for heating, lighting and security
- integrate Personal Emergency Response pendants should you so wish – Fall detectors
- 24/7 emergency response for home intrusion, fire and medical emergencies and have persistent awareness of what’s going on at home
- the family will receive alerts through the system if routines change or if the pendants are used call the 24/7monitoring service
You can only get this if you have their security system.
SimpliSafe – available in the US and UK
This is home security system, which you can extend to include in-home passive monitoring, a medical alert with the home security for intruders, and with a 24/7 monitoring center.
You can monitor your elderly parents by setting the sensors to send alerts for different actions, to their family and caregivers, – for getting out of bed, opening the fridge, going into the bathroom etc.
The system also has cameras with two way talk, which can also be used to keep in touch with your parent.
Medical alerts can be sent in 3 ways – panic buttons on the wall, the key fobs and the main key pad – theses can all be linked to 24/7 monitoring.
The System –
- comprises a central hub, a keypad, Entry sensors (door/window/cupboard), an indoor camera – the Simplicam, Glassbreak sensors, Panic Buttons (wall), Smoke Detector, Freeze Sensor, Water Sensor, 105db Siren, Key Fob
- you can customize the system in any way you like
- the SimpliSafe Home Security app lets you control your loved ones system from anywhere from your smartphone or other digital device
- you can arm and disarm the system, set instant notifications and keep track of everything in an up to the minute timeline, watch and capture live video if you have a SimpliSafe camera
- you can have as many panic buttons in different room as you wish, and you can have more than one Key Fob – you can carry these around with you
- when the operator contacts you, it will be by phone, so you have to have this on you – if they can’t get you they will send which ever emergency service you chose
- the monitoring service will also contact the your designated caregivers and family members to let them know
Now for something a bit different.
CareCoach is an avatar (cartoon animal) on a google nexus tablet, which will converse with elderly adults and also keep an eye on them.
There is, in fact, a person behind each cartoon animal, who is sitting somewhere in an office checking in several times an hour with their elderly clients.
The avatars over time become friends with the clients, and will prompt them to recount their lives, and talk to them about what they are doing and how they are feeling.
The carers behind the avatars do not become known to the elderly clients, and the avatars speak with a female computer generated voice.
The avatars automatically generate a certain percentage of the conversation’s content, and the human carer will type in a certain percentage as well, which will be spoken in the avatar’s voice.
The carers behind the avatars will take notes during their chats with the elderly clients, and will then make those notes available to any of their colleagues who work with that person, and also to the elderly person’s family and caregivers.
If the carer behind the avatar becomes aware of any problems they will call the family, and caregivers, of the elderly person to let them know.
This is human monitoring, and if you can afford it, it really seems to help with loneliness, and to safely maintain independence a little longer in the home.
Here is the url to a very good, long, article about it on Wired.com –
It has videos and you can really see how the elderly interact with the avatars. The system is available for private individuals.
How can I monitor my elderly parents outside of the home ?
As we saw none of the sensor systems, except for TruSense, had a monitoring device which worked for our parents when they are out and about.
If your parents are in the car, you can just get a GPS Tracker for that, and TruSense also had one of those.
For parents who are active, you can get a mobile device with GPS Location Tracking, some form of medical alert, two way talk and sometimes more.
What are my mobile monitoring options ?
The options are –
- Mobile Medical alert systems which have GPS Location Tracking, Automatic Fall Detection and a 24/7 monitoring center
- commonly called GPS Trackers with fall detection which are unmonitored, but which text, email, or call, a list of designated contacts either when a fall is detected, or the alarm button on them is pressed
Where can I get a mobile system with a 24/7 monitoring center ?
There are many mobile medical alert devices with
- GPS Tracking
- Automatic Fall detection
- and apps
- that allow you to talk with your loved ones
- see where they are in real time
- track their appointments
- set up reminders for appointments
Some will even sort out taxis for them so you know exactly what is going on.
All of the mobile systems will work inside and outside of the home.
The systems do though rely on good cellular network reception for contact.
Mobile systems with 24/7 monitoring centers in the US
GreatCall has a range of mobile devices which work with their GreatCall Link App which comes with certain of their subscriptions.
Once caregivers have the app on their smartphone they can
- view all their loved one’s daily activities
- including appointments and reminders
- see where they are at any time
- receive alerts, and more
To get all of this you need to have one of the four devices –
- Jitterbug Flip – this also a telephone and medical alert device
- Jitterbug Smart2 – this is also a smartphone and medical alert device
- Lively Mobile
- Lively Wearable
You can also pay extra for automatic fall detection with all of the devices.
You pay for the system with a subscription.
MobileHelp is a cellular based system and has 24/7 monitoring centers for medical alerts.
To get the activities monitoring side of the system to work you need the app MobileHelp Connect, and it’s free.
Caregivers and family members can check in, and see how their loved ones are doing.
The app has –
- GPS Location Tracking
- non-emergency alerts – email or text
- system status alerts – email or text
- medication reminders
- activity tracking
- vital stats – blood glucose, heart rate, blood pressure
For the fall detection and the medication reminders there are requirements you must check.
There are three devices using the system –
- Mobile Solo
- Mobile Duo
- Mobile Smart
Philips Life line has two mobile devices with 24/7 monitoring centers, automatic fall detection and GPS tracking.
There is no family and caregiver app though, and no dashboard or care portal for family and caregivers to check into.
The GPS and Automatic Fall Detection are linked to the 24/7 monitoring center, who will, in the event of an alert, be able to locate where the wearer is, and see if they have fallen.
They will let the caregivers and family know where their parent is and what is going on.
The devices with this are –
ResponseNow has one mobile device with a 24/7 monitoring center, GPS Tracking and Automatic Fall Detection.
ResponseNow do not have an app or care portal for the caregivers and family
Only the 24/7 monitoring operators will have access to the GPS, and they will also receive the alerts from the Automatic Fall Detection. If the operators receive an alert, they will contact the family and caregivers with information about what has happened and where it occurred.
The ResponseNow device with GPS Tracking and Automatic Fall Detection is –
- Belle +
Do not confuse this with Belle which does not have the GPS Tracking and Automatic Fall Detection.
Medical Guardian has 3 mobile devices with 24/7 monitoring centers for medical emergencies.
The devices are –
- Mobile Guardian – GPS Location Tracking, but no Automatic Fall Detection
- Active Guardian – GPS Location Tracking and Automatic Fall Detection
- Freedom Guardian – GPS Location Tracking, but no Automatic Fall Detection
The only one of the three devices with any kind of activities monitoring is the Freedom Guardian.
The Freedom Guardian
The Freedom Guardian is both a smartwatch and a medical alert button, and it comes with its it’s own app called the Companion App.
This app allows all the members of the user’s “Care Circle” (selected contacts – family, friends, caregivers, doctors) to
- contact your loved one at any time
- have access to all their activities data
The Companion App features a
- message center
- location tracker
- day planner
- alert history
- and watch updates.
You must check which services come with which subscription.
Mobile systems with 24/7 monitoring centers in the UK
Telecare24 Careline has one mobile device which in monitored 24/7 by a monitoring center.
The device has GPS Location Tracking which can be used by the operators to locate your loved ones.
There is no app which allows you to monitor your parents activities yourself, or to see where they are when they leave the home.
The device is the – Tag Mobile
SureSafeGo has one mobile device which has
- a 24/7 monitoring center
- GPS tracking technology
- and Automatic Fall Detection.
Just send a text to the device and it will text you back its GPS location, so you can see where your loved one is whenever you want.
In an emergency the monitoring center will use the GPS to locate your loved one, and you will be notified.
The SureSafeGo device is
- SureSafeGo 24/7 Connect Anywhere Alarm
Monitor Go is a mobile phone which has
- GPS Location Tracking
- Automatic Fall Detection
- an SOS button
- Unconscious Alert
- a 24/7 Monitoring center
- it is also fully functioning telephone.
You will be able to call your loved one Monitor Go device, and they can call you and anyone else.
On the Monitor Go website the caregivers and family have
- access to their loved ones portal
- can check the location tracking at anytime to see where they are
- see the alert history
- see the selected family + caregiver contacts
- emergency numbers.
In an emergency the device will send an alert to the monitoring center who will call emergency services, and give them your loved ones location. The monitoring service will also contact the selected contacts.
Oysta Technologies make three mobile devices for the UK which an app called MyOysta and can be used by family and caregivers.
There is an app for caregivers or family members which can
- receive alerts
- has geo fencing (sending alarms when a person leaves a specific area)
- set reminders about medicines and activities.
Which features you can get will be determined by the provider you use.
Oystas devices are offered in the UK by a number of providers.
Anchor also offer them to their care home residents, and to members of the general public. All the services I have seen also offer 24/7 monitoring centers.
The devices made by Oysta are –
- Oysta Pearl+
- Oysta Just in case
- Oysta Help in hand
Centra Pulse provides a 24/7 monitoring center with operators who answer and assess the calls for help. You pay a monthly subscription to have the monitoring
The device they sell is the –
- Evron Vega GPS Locator
Where can I get a mobile device which just let’s me monitor my elderly parent ?
You can buy mobile GPS Location Tracking devices with Automatic Fall Detection which don’t have 24/7 monitoring, which will send any alerts to designated contacts who are entered into the system via an app.
The contacts will receive a message and the GPS coordinates of your loved on, and or, a voice call from the device.
These mobile tracking devices without monitoring are not going to offer the same level of support in an emergency as 24/7 monitored system which will have all your parent’s medical information on hand, and who can share your loved ones medical details with the emergency staff they send to assist them.
But, in this article I am talking about monitoring, and some of these unmonitored mobile devices have apps which let you see where your parent is at all time, let you talk to them, let you set reminders, and will alert you to any emergencies.
Unmonitored mobile devices in the US
SureSafeGo – available in the UK as well
You can get exactly the same device as you get with the 24/7 monitoring center, except without the monitoring center.
The device is called –
- SureSafeGo Anywhere
Live Life LLC
LiveLife LLC makes a pendant with GPS Location Tracking, Automatic Fall Detection, GEO Fencing, Two way talk and an SOS button.
The pendant has its own phone number, and anyone who knows the number can call your loved one.
You can locate your loved one at any time by texting LOC to the number of the mobile alarm and you will receive a text message with a link to google maps showing your loved one’s location.
Your loved one can press the SOS button to send alerts to their emergency contacts.
If your loved one falls, the device automatically sends the an alert to the 5 pre-selected emergency contacts, and it will rotate through calling the numbers until one of them replies. The device sends texts as well as calling the contact numbers.
The device is the –
- LiveLife Mobile Alarm
Revolar Instinct is a small keychain button that connects to a smartphone and uses it to send alerts.
Whenever your loved one presses it, it will automatically send their GPS location to their programmed contacts.
V.alrt is a mobile wearable button which can be carried, worn on the wrist or around the neck. It has GPS Location Tracking and Automatic Fall Detection.
It is run by an app which you download to your loved one’s smartphone.
In an emergency your loved one just pushes the button and your smartphone will send a personalized text message and GPS location to up to 3 preselected contacts.
If the V.alrt button gets too far from the smartphone it will receive a notification. It has a wireless range of up to 75 feet indoors, or up to 300 feet outdoors using Bluetooth 4.0.
The Zanthion Smart Watch is a full android smart watch with
- activity tracking
- GPS location
- a heart rate monitor
- automatic fall detection
- and voice controlled answering
- it has an app called the Zanthion Mobile Client app
Using the Zanthion Mobile Client app the watch sends
- notifications to selected contacts of a request for help
- breaking geo fencing boundaries,
The Zanthion Mobile Client app will pinpoint your parent using google maps.
The functions are –
- bed exit alarm (can set times of day and time away from bed)
- activity monitoring (how far, how often and how fast)
- perimeter alarm (can set how far and how long)
- automatic fall detection – you can even add your loved ones weight into the watch
- geo location on Google Maps to find loved ones
- voice activated answering
This watch can be used in conjunction with the Zanthion Smart Senior Care Platform and sensors, to make a complete image of senior activity which is traceable .
The Mobile Client app is then notified whenever an event outside of the norm occurs.
Unmonitored mobile devices in the UK
The SafeMotion GPS Watch has
- location tracking
- GEO fencing alerts
- normal mobile phone functions
- and an app with the SafeMotion Web portal
- the watch can have three selected contacts for emergencies
In an emergency your loved one can raise the alert by pressing one of the SOS buttons on the watch, and their three selected contacts will receive a notification message.
As soon as you accept the alert your loved one will receive a message saying you are on the way.
On the web portal the three contacts can
- locate their loved one without disturbing them
- can also set them reminders and appointments
- your loved one will receive notifications of any reminders or appointments
Your loved one
- can call contacts from the watch
- can send you messages
- the three contacts can check their messages on the web portal
Med Page Micro GPS Tracker with Integrated Fall Sensor –
has GPS location tracker, with GEO fencing to help with wandering, Fall Detection, two way mobile voice calling, Caller whitelist protection, journey history review, SOS panic button, reminder setting via an app and can hold up to 5 emergency contacts.
In an emergency your loved one can press a panic button, and this will call and text the 5 contacts, sending the GPS location in the text.
Your loved one will be able to talk with you on the device.
If the device detects a fall, it will automatically call the contacts and text them the GPS location of your loved one – there is also a button on the device to cancel if the fall is a false alarm.
The device has no subscription, monitoring or web tracking fees, but it will require a SIM card.
TrackerGuard Fall Alarm for Elderly
TrackerGuard Fall Alarm fo Elderly –
is an unmonitored mobile Automatic Fall Detector with a panic button and with GPS Location Tracker.
In an emergency your loved one can press the panic button and the device will call and send texts to 5 emergency contacts.
If automatic fall detection is triggered the device will automatically all the numbers and send a fall text alongside the calls.
The device accepts incoming calls, and has a microphone and speakers.
The Techsilver Tracking Watch For The Elderly –
This unmonitored device from Techsilver has
- an emergency button
- GPS Location Tracking
- GEO Fencing for when your loved ones wander
- and it functions as a phone (you can enter 16 numbers in to use with the phone function).
- 3 selected contacts for alerts
On the app
- the 3 emergency contacts will be able to track your loved one’s location at any time from their smartphone
- set reminders for pills and appointments
- set the watch to send them notifications if your loved one leaves a specified area.
In an emergency your loved one will push on the SOS button on the watch and it will send an alert to 3 pre-selected emergency contacts.
What about only monitoring certain devices in the home ?
What if you just want to monitor one or two devices in the home for safety, and don’t need such elaborate systems as I’ve been looking at here.
In particular, in the kitchen and the bathroom, you may want to simply put in a few safety devices and monitoring, to ensure that there are no floods and no fires, or in the bedroom just to know if your elderly parent has gotten up in the morning.
This is possible too…
How can I monitor and stop the bathtub and sinks from overflowing ?
I would recommend having a plumber install “Flowban”.
Flowban is a special valve/kit which is fitted to the pipes and the overflow of a tub or sink to prevent them from over filling and flooding.
As the overflow starts to take in water, the water is diverted into a valve and eventually shutting off the water flow to the tub.
Let out some water and normal flow resumes.
It can’t be fitted on all systems, and it does require a plumber for the installation so it is not the cheapest option.
A cheaper, and really easy option, for your loved ones is “Magiplug”.
This is a plug with a pressure plate. When the water reaches a certain depth in the tub, or sink, and thus weight, the plug will let water out of the tub.
I realize this isn’t monitoring, but it eliminates the problem, so I hope I am forgiven for including it here.
The stove can be very dangerous how can I monitor that ?
Leaving the stove on and forgetting it, can obviously have disastrous results, so I’m going to give you two types of products – one which monitors and sends you a notification if it’s left on (some of which also shut off the stove), and secondly devices which will simply shut the stove off for your loved one.
So lets start with the smart devices with apps that will notify you on your smart phone –
- Wallflower Smart Monitor – US – the device sends a notification reminding you that the stove is on and works via wifi. It does not turn the stove off.
- iGuardStove Intelligent Stove Shut Off – US – this will shut your stove off when you move out of range, and stay out of range, for more than 5 – 15 minutes and it will send you notifications via wifi. It has a motion detector, and it will let you set the time you can be out of range. The system also allows you to disable the stove for certain periods of time, so you can turn it off at night.
- Safera Airis – Uk – this is a sensor unit which will simply shut off the power to the stove when it gets too hot, and can also be connected to a smart home system to send notifications to your smartphone.
Now if you want your loved one to have a shut-off device for the stove here are a couple –
- CookStop – US – this device uses motion sensors to detect when you are in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen the device will start a timer countdown, and after a number of minutes it will shut off the power to the stove until you return.
- Sona Stove Guard – UK – this system simlpy detects signals from smoke detectors or heat sensors and shuts off the power supply.
- Self T Element Cooking System – US – this is for electric coil range stoves. It attaches iron hotplates to the existing burners on your stove. The hotplates have a sensor which once the plate gets to a temperature of 662 f the sensor cycles the stove power on and off preventing things like cooking oils from reaching their ignition point, and thus preventing fires from happening.
How can I check that my parent is eating enough ?
To see how often your parent is eating, you can put a simple door sensor on the fridge. You will need a hub, with an app which will notify your phone when the fridge is opened.
You still have to buy a hub and door sensor, but if you buy a hub such as MiHome by Energenie, and the door sensor, you will pay much less than for the larger systems. The app is free and, this is amazing…….. there is no subscription required for the system !!!
How can I check that my parent is out of bed ?
A very simple device for this is SafeWander.
Your parent attaches a small sensor to their night clothes, and when they get up the device will automatically send a notification to your smartphone telling you.
The system is comprised of the sensor, and a gateway with an app.
SafeWander has stellar reviews with particular reference to the customer service and the actual speed at which the system sends the alerts.
For those of you who just want to know when their parent is up in the morning this is a great option, and also as it notifies during the night you will see if your loved one is developing any activity trends of night rising.
You pay for the equipment only. The device sends the alerts to your smartphone over the internet, so there is no network SIM required, but your loved one needs to have Wi Fi
How can I know my parent is taking their medications ?
If you are worried that your parent is not remembering to take their medications you will find that there are a lot of medications reminder systems. Some have sensors which will send you a notification to say that your loved one has taken their medications, and if they haven’t.
A good example is –
PillDrill Smart Medication Tracking System
You, or a caregiver, can fill the pill trays for your loved one if they are unable to, and at allotted times the device will ring an alarm to say it’s time to take the pills. The device will display the name of the pills to be taken, just so there is no confusion.
After your loved one has taken the pills, they scan the empty pot to tell the system that they have taken their dose. If they don’t take their pills, or scan the pot, the caregivers will get a notification on their smartphone saying that a dose has been missed.
All that has to be done, is that you download the free app to your smartphone, even if you aren’t the caregiver, and you will receive the notifications, and can then remind your parents, or the caregiver, if they haven’t seen the notification.
When you buy the PillDrill you pay for the equipment only, there’s no subscription.
Can I monitor my parents medications with an app ?
You can get lots of apps which will remind your parents to take their pills, and some of these are free, and they can work really well.
But you won’t know if your parent has taken the medications or not, so if you want monitoring, you need to have something like PillDrill, or a similar device, which notifies the caregivers as well as reminding your loved one.
Remember a lot of older adults may not be tech savvy enough to use the app – I know my mother just rolls her eyes at this stuff as she doesn’t have a clue or the desire to learn to use it – and the reason your loved ones need a reminder is because they are forgetting, so learning to use an app may just be too much.
If they get regular help, then I think that is a rather different situation, and an app can be perfectly adequate.
Here’s a list of recommended apps –
- Medisafe Medication Reminder
- Mango health
I hope that my guide to monitoring elderly parents from afar is helpful to some of you who are trying to help your parents at a distance.
I know that the stress caused by the worry is sometimes very heavy going, but I do think that there are solutions here for a lot people.
I have links to other articles on related topics which you may find helpful, below.
I’m Gareth and I’m the owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com
I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.
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