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Mom needs 24/7 help and I work. What do I do?

Photo of smiling older adult woman by Unsplash.

Photo of smiling older adult woman by Unsplash.

We’ve all seen the commercial where an elderly woman falls and says, “Help me! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

It tugs at your heart strings. You think about your own grandma and worry that she could end up in a situation where she’s fallen, hurting, and totally unable to get help.

Or maybe the person you think about is your spouse with a neurological condition. Or a child with special needs.

For many people, it’s really difficult to balance working and taking care of a loved one at home. It’s impossible to find affordable caregivers to help your loved one while your away. A solution to the conundrum of affordable caregiving may lie in passive monitoring.

Passive monitoring is an option people use to keep track of their loved one at home or in the community using different kinds of technology, like wearable devices, video cameras, and sensors. Although some services are more pricey than others, passive monitoring can save you a lot of money tracking your loved one as opposed to in-home care.

I gotta step on my soap box for a second. Before you start researching different types of passive monitoring, talk to your loved one about their preferences on being monitored with technology! Your loved one has the right to choose if they want to be remotely monitored. My mom and I talked with my grandparents before introducing a wearable medical alert device. Granny and Grandpa felt totally indifferent to passive monitoring and allowed us to do it.

Not everybody else feels that way! Some people think it’s a little bit too 1984. Keep your loved one’s dignity intact by allowing them to choose passive monitoring or no monitoring. How’d you like it if someone forced you to put sensors all over your house and talk with Alexa every day?

Soap box over!

Photo of two women sitting in front of a laptop by Unsplash.

Photo of two women sitting in front of a laptop by Unsplash.

When selecting a passive monitoring system, find out if that company is HIPAA compliant (for privacy purposes, hello!). We don’t want Granny’s personal information going out to random companies or people who might take advantage of her information. Also, make sure that you can control who the system notifies. There’s no sense in your brother in Toronto being contacted first if your mom falls in the shower.

Medical alert devices, like Lifeline or Life Alert, are the go-to method for passive monitoring for a lot of adults. It’s affordable and nowadays there’s a GPS option, which has the ability to detect if your loved one falls and needs emergency services. The only problem is some people still use the wearable pendant that relies on the person’s ability to push a button when they need help. What if they’re unconscious or just flat out refuse to wear the dang thing?

My granny was one of those people who didn’t like wearing her medical alert device. I caught her a million times not wearing it. She’d shrug, smile sheepishly, and say, “I forgot.” Other times, Granny confessed, “Sometimes I fall asleep with it and I wake up to it choking me!”

If you’re Granny is resistant to wearing a GPS pendant, that’s okay! There’s a lot of other options. Check out these passive monitoring services! (This is not a sponsored article. I’m just sharing three companies where I liked their concepts. I have not used any of these services!)

CarePredict

This passive monitoring system keeps track of what a person does day to day. It learns and summarizes a person’s typical routine and shares the information with family and caregivers. CarePredict automatically alerts someone if your loved one’s routine changed, like if Grandpa woke up a couple of hours late. A change in routine is an early indicator that something wrong is happening with their overall health. For instance, Grandpa might have a urinary tract infection or a mini-stroke.

CarePredict requires your loved one to wear a device on the wrist that looks like a watch. The GPS capability on the wearable shows Grandpa’s exact location in a room at home or in the community. There’s no way Grandpa could elope! The wrist device has two way communication that allows Grandpa to talk with caregivers. But the coolest thing about the wrist wearable is its ability to unlock a keyless door! That makes CarePredict great for people living in a private residence or senior living community!

Again, we run into the problem of actually needing to wear a device for the passive monitoring to work. My granny probably would’ve “forgot” to wear this thing too. But who knows, maybe your loved one will feel differently about it!

TruSense

Photo of couple dancing in community by Unsplash

Photo of couple dancing in community by Unsplash

We got a solution to people who don’t want to wear a device for passive monitoring! TruSense places sensors in the home that tracks your loved one’s activities throughout the day. It’s similar to CarePredict in that a caregiver is alerted when something goes awry with a person’s routine. It also detects when someone leaves the house. But TruSense is unique in that it integrates with Alexa through the Echo Dot. This means Alexa can give Granny alerts to take medication, eat, get ready for doctor’s appointments, etc.

For people who go out into the community, TruSense offers wearable tech that includes a GPS pendant or smartsole for a shoe and a car monitor. This system is definitely less invasive and could be an easy transition if your granny is used to using an Amazon device already!

Rest Assured

Does Granny need a little more help than passive monitoring? Rest Assured provides a combination of remote monitoring and tele-caregiving. They set up a combination of web-based sensors, cameras, microphones, and personal emergency devices. The type and amount of electronic devices depends on your loved one’s needs. The cameras are only placed in “common areas” like the living room or kitchen. This type of set up allows people to interact with tele-caregivers, or remote caregivers, so Granny can sit down and chat with a person on the camera screen.

Rest Assured states their services could potentially replace an on-site overnight caregiver to prevent elopement or wandering. Just to give you an idea on savings, an overnight caregiver in Missouri starts as low as $20 and hour. This can add up to a tremendous cost very few people can afford! Rest Assured also states their tele-caregivers can give medication reminders and coach people through daily activities, like making a meal.

Rest Assured is the only company I found where the cost of services may be covered dependending on the state you live in! If you’re Medicaid eligible, check out your state’s Medicaid waiver programs!

Photo of two men smiling at each other by Unsplash.

Photo of two men smiling at each other by Unsplash.

More and more passive monitoring systems are creeping up all over the U.S. because of the affordability. Hopefully, this article gives you a head start on your options to take care of your loved ones! Personally, I’m amazed at the changes in passive monitoring technology over the past five years. It’s certainly improved!

For more in-depth reviews on medical alert systems, click here to check out Consumersadvocate.org.

Do you use passive monitoring? Tell us your experience in the comments down below! Which companies would you stay away from or recommend? Share this article with someone looking for a way to keep mom and dad safe at home!