Newsletter Articles

8 Devices to Keep Elderly Relatives Safe at Home

By: Rob Nightingale

Elder Law Associates Newsletter dated November 7, 2017

Knowing that an elderly friend or relative is at home alone can be extremely worrying. Luckily, there are plenty of gadgets that are easily installed to help with this. These will help improve the safety of their property, and allow you to receive an alert when something isn’t right.

In short, your mind will be more at ease, and your elderly relative will be safer in their home.
Some of the devices below (and other smart security devices we’ve covered before) will need an Internet connection. But just in case this isn’t available, we’ve included a few that’ll still work offline. We’ve tried to select only those that are affordable and easily set up, though there is one device that will require a plumber for installation.
We hope these suggestions will help keep your elderly relatives safe, and reduce the stress of knowing they may be home alone.
Self-Learning Stove Alarms
The dangers of falling asleep when (or forgetting that) the stove is left on are hard to understate. That’s why a number of stove alarms such as the highly recommended offering from Innohome have come to market. These act as more than simply a smoke or heat detector.
Innohome’s SA101 model actually learns the usual cooking habits within a specific kitchen. So, if your great-aunt likes to fry her bacon on a super-high heat, the alarm won’t startle her every time she’s at the cooker.
The aim of the alarm is to alert your relative before toxic gases are produced, before a fire starts, and without being a hindrance as many other kitchen alarms tend to be. 
Temperature Alerts To Your Phone
There are a variety of temperature and humidity monitoring devices available. These alert the user about unusual or dangerous temperature changes. This tech is often used in businesses to ensure greenhouses don’t get too cold, or server rooms don’t get too hot. It also has useful home uses. Namely, to alert you if your relative’s house is dangerously cold during the winter, prompting you to stop by to make sure everything’s ok.
One reputable option is the La Crosse Alerts 926-25101-GP, which sends alerts via text or email to a selected recipient. This model does require a Wi-Fi connection to work, however. If your grandparents don’t have Internet connectivity, you may want to consider the more costly Temperature Alert (cellular version) which plugs directly into an electrical outlet
To send texts, both of these options will require a yearly cellular plan, which is an extra cost to bear in mind.
Motion Activated Reminders
Memo Minder senses when your relative is walking out of the house (or into a certain room). It then automatically plays a personal message recorded by your relative or a family member, which can run for up upto 20 seconds.
For instance, if they’re about to leave the house, a message could play saying “hey Pops, it’s Dan! Don’t forget your keys and meds”. If they’re approaching the stairs, it could say “Make sure to use your stick”. If door-to-door sales people are an unwanted issue, the message could be a reminder to ask to see ID.
Unfortunately, there are currently no reviews on the Amazon US page, but you can read some on Amazon UK.
The updated Memo Minder Plus also senses the direction of motion to help further customize the message, though this model is not yet available in the US.
Audio, Video Monitoring (And More)
Canary is a smart, complete security system that’s controlled remotely, and adapts to your home over time. 
Once installed, you’re can receive a real-time audio and video stream of your home, with an optional motion-activated recording option. This means that when no one is in the house, Canary knows to monitor for unusual activity.
If anyone does stray unwanted into the house, there’s also a 90+DB siren that you can sound, along with humidity, air quality, and temperature sensors built in.
Unlike the temperature alert devices mentioned elsewhere in this article, there’s no monthly fees, contracts or cellular plans to sign up for. Despite a couple of issues some people are having with installation on Android, set-up is largely a painless procedure. This set up issue should be fixed shortly.
Granted, Canary can’t communicate with other smart devices (other than your phone). Nevertherless, this is a fantastic option that allows you to check everything is alright at your relative’s home simply by logging into the (occasionally updated) app. If anything’s amiss, automated notifications can be set up to alert you immediately.
Motion Sensing Light Sockets
First Alert motion sensing light sockets sense when someone enters and exits a room, and turns the light on and off accordingly. This saves on energy bills, and means no one needs to stumble around in the dark looking for the light switch.
To install, simply screw the light sensor into the light socket, then screw the bulb into the sensor. The sensor will sense motion around a full 360-degrees, and has a sensitivity range of 12 feet.
Other options are light sensing bulbs (rather than just the sensor), including the iRainy E27 and the Mudder E27. If you’re more electrically minded, installing a motion sensing light switch may be preferable.
Easy Access To Keys
A key safe can ensure your relative is always able to enter their house if they lose or forget their keys. There are plenty of options available, with the wall-mounted Master Lock 5401D being one of the most reputable.
These safes are secured with customizable combinations. So, ensure you have access to the combination yourself in case your relative forgets.
Keyless Smart Locks
If you’re uncomfortable leaving a key outside in a safe, you could always use the Lockitron (now open for preorder at $99). This is a smart lock which remotely opens a deadbolt lock from anywhere (provided there is Wi-Fi access). If your relative forgets their key, they can give you a call, you open the Lockitron app (iOS/Android), and click to open the front door for them.
This seems to be one of the best options available, as it does not damage or replace your existing lock, and you can still open the lock with a key. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with every lock, but you can check from within the app itself, before buying the device.
Prevent Baths From Overflowing
Anyone with a forgetful mind will know the perils that come with running a bath. In response to this, the Flowban (~$180) is nifty piece of engineering that prevents baths from overflowing. The contraption works by mechanically shutting off the faucets when the water level reaches the overflow.
Although you will need to pay a plumber to have the Flowban installed, as the company’s chief engineer says, “Installing these is an insurance policy. It’s not uncommon for a guest to leave the bath running and perhaps take a phone call or watch TV, only to find there is water all over the floor.”
You can get hold of your own Flowban either on eBay, or by emailing the company directly.
Which Other Devices Could Help?
With our lives being so hectic, sometimes we can leave it too long to see an elderly friend or relative. Or perhaps we spend more time than we need to worrying that they are ok. These are just a few of the devices on the market that can help to make sure that when we’re not around, those who are more vulnerable than ourselves are kept safer. This allows us to be more confident that they’re ok both inside and outside of their home.
As the Internet of Things becomes more ubiquitous, more devices will require an Internet connection. If this is something your elderly relatives are lacking due to lack of technical knowledge, you should introduce them to a Chromebook. A basic smart phone with larger icons and displays could also do the job. This will help them to not only enjoy the benefits of being online, but also ensures that you can always contact them.
What other devices have you seen that could help elderly friends or relatives stay safe?
Article Source: