Have you taken your pills yet? Have you had dinner? Did you get your shower done? Did you go on your walk dad? What time did you get up?
All these questions (and many more) are phrases that many children find themselves asking their elderly parents daily. Not surprisingly, and even though it might be a necessary routine to go through, many elderly parents see these constant questions as a threat to their sense of independence, and children may find them tiring.
The constant monitoring, despite the fact that it may be an essential step in making sure that an elderly parent is continually safe and well cared for, can put undue stress and strain on a family relationship. Some elders even find themselves withdrawing and becoming defensive when asked these questions over and over each day, feeling as though they are being nagged by their kids. Kids don’t like to feel like they are nagging their parents either. It is an uncomfortable situation for both.
A new product called Lively might be able to give your parents some breathing room while still keeping them safe. Not only is Lively an emergency alert system (think Lifealert, “Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” [cringe]), but it also includes a set of sensors that can be attached to medicine boxes, the refrigerator, the shower door, front door, etc. These sensors report back to an online dashboard that kids, caregivers, or other parties (with permission of course) can use to see when they were last accessed.
From the Lively website, here’s a rundown of how the devices work. The creators also say that they are working on built in fall sensors and other features. The key to the system is a watch that the senior can wear, which also includes a pedometer. Why a pedometer? Kids can monitor the readings to make sure that their parents are up and moving on a regular basis. When a parent slows down, it can be a sign of a health issue or other problem.
Lively co-founder David Glickman explained to Huffington Post, “The [emergency] button is only one part of the experience. The idea was to come out with something that was there for the emergencies and with sensors — a tool that helps with the prevention side as well as offering peace of mind. If you have an overall sense of things like eating patterns, routine and that sort of thing, then this can change the conversation that happens between adult children and loved ones that have products like this.”
The watch is available in several colors and the bands are interchangeable. Seniors can wear the item without feeling like they have a huge glaring alert pendant pointing out the fact that they are no longer able to safely live without outside help. The system is available for a one-time fee for the devices (pretty reasonable at $49.95) with a monthly subscription fee for the ongoing services.
Constant monitoring will always be hot button issue for seniors and caregivers. There will always need to be a balance needed between autonomy and privacy for seniors and care monitoring, but devices such as Lively, which can monitor without cameras or other directly invasive measures, might be a big step in the right direction.