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Eldercare Gadgets and Devices for Senior Parents Still Living in Their Home
Old 01-12-2019, 09:18 AM   #1
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Eldercare Gadgets and Devices for Senior Parents Still Living in Their Home

My parents are pushing into their mid-80s, and each has significant health issues. One has early-stage Parkinsons and significant short-term memory loss caused by dementia. The other is mentally sound but has congestive heart failure and walks with a cane.

My brother and I are trying to keep them in their home as long as possible, prior to entry into the local nursing home. I am in the process of meeting with an eldercare lawyer, and we are working on getting a helper in their house for a couple of hours a day. The at-home help will likely increase over time, and we will likely be hiring far-more-expensive home health aides later on. Then, one day, the nursing home.

While we are working out these issues, my brother and I are pondering getting some Nest cameras in the house to monitor them, and possibly one of those I've-fallen-and-can't-get-up devices. We view anything that keeps them at home as a bargain compared to the $7-$8K/month nursing home cost for a double room.

Any thoughts on whether such devices would work, and what brand of I've-fallen device to use (along with cost)? Any other devices you would recommend?

FYI, for meds, we use PillPack with some success.

Thanks.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:42 AM   #2
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My parents used Life Alert brand. It worked well for them.
You might also consider asking their Dr to write referral for home health evaluation with nurse, occupational (work on eating, dressing, self care issues) and physical therapy to see what assistance/equipment care aid would help in the home. (if this has not been done already). We found that valuable for my Dad.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:48 AM   #3
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You mention one parent is mentally sound. I would be reluctant to install a camera at this time based on that, as it might be an invasion of privacy.

You might contact your local hospital for an alert suggestion. I know ours has recommended programs- but of course not all do.
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Old 01-12-2019, 09:50 AM   #4
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Life alert type of device and an auto pill dispenser vs a pill pack, it alarms when dose time and calls someone if missed, also will lock out so no double dose.

Im not old and still cant remember if i took meds / vitiams 15 minutes after taking them.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:04 AM   #5
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We're there... @ age83.

#1 safety device for us is Amazon Echo/Alexa. Tied into all house rooms, and "Alexa, Call the kids"... puts us in contact with our kids, who though 700 miles away, know what to do, and who to contact... 911, neighbor, etc. (one of our kids is always home).
Three Echoes for $75 is a quick and easy way to connect.

Keep the instructions simple, with reminders on the refrigerator and in the bathroom.

Look for less expensive senior living... Independent two persons, two bedroom with all expenses, for less than $35K. For assisted living 1 person $51K. Nursing home 60K.

Costs here:
Sharing 23 years of Frugal Retirement

Independent homecare aides can be much less expensive than commercial operations, particularly as a live-in. Requires some effort to find this kind of care, but from personal observations, much more satisfactory.

Elderlaw is your first good move. Get the paperwork right.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:14 AM   #6
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Mo Money, I feel your concern. Ive spent the last 2 years in exactly the same position. Both my Mom (93) and brother (65) (who were living together in her house) had strokes. I immediately had caregivers assigned for half the day (utilized meals on wheels), purchased the alert buttons, got new and easier cell phones, AND installed the nest cameras in the common areas (so not to invade the private space). Now, I live on the west coast and mom and brother were on the east coast. I literally would sit in my office and have a view of them as needed. I was able to hear and see the visits from both health care workers and caregivers. And yes I had to interview several times and tell them to call 911. I was even giving instructions to the ambulance paramedics when they were called. My brother suffered from falls routinely so the cameras were a god send and I could even send short clips to the doctors to observe the situation. After about a year of this I sent mom to an assisted living facility where she receive the attention she needed, meds, and socialization. Brother insisted on staying in the house (against my recomendation). He had visits from physical and occupational therepist and would routinely lie to them about taking his meds etc. Yep, I saw it all one camera and would then double back to the therapist and explain the truth. (strokes change their personality). Fast forward dear brother was last seen on camera walking to the bathroom and I noticed no activity for many hours then a day. I sent over someone to check on him and it was too late. So, I 100% endorse the drop cams'.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:19 AM   #7
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Thanks for the replies and tips so far! Keep 'em coming, folks.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:27 AM   #8
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Ditto on the Amazon Echo's. And an Echo Show might be helpful too - it has a screen and makes it easier and less intimidating than yelling at a tube.

Do they still drive? We personally have forgotten to put our garage door down a couple of nights, and bought a Chamberlain device that allows the door to shut within 10 minutes, and it's easily overridden if you're working out there or something.

Friendly can openers and jar openers are helpful, as are sock butlers (Google it).

Good luck - been there, done that.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:29 AM   #9
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Finding reliable in-home care is near impossible where we live in California. My father is that age, has dementia and is easy to care for. He lived with us for 2 years before we finally had it with no life of our own and pulling our hair out trying to find any type of elder care help for any reasonable amount of money. Any legit business wants a minimum $25 an hour. Wanna go away for the weekend? Friday evening to Monday late morning? 60 hours and it costs $1,500. There are care givers willing to work under the table, but what would happen if there was a problem? It's sure to be more trouble than the cost savings up front I'm sure. We have a studio apartment on our property I built last summer. I've looked for a 24/7 live in arrangement through a legit business so DW and I can resume our own lives. Heck, maybe even have the live-in fix our meals and do our laundry/housekeeping since most of their time is sitting around. We have a budget of $6,000 on top of the free rent, meals included and any other expenses like utilities, laundry facilities, etc. We are laughed at. Literally laughed at that we think we can get this for that price. A memory care facility charges that in a group setting and no where near one-on-one 24/7 care. Which, by the way, is where Dad is now. The problem is my dad is bored and lonely. He misses living with family and the pets. The interaction with other people is either those who are worse off memory-wise than him, he calls them droolers, or with staff that treat him as just another drooler himself. They won't let him dress himself; afraid he'll fall, so they do it. They won't let him decide when to eat, how much to eat, what to eat even. I feel so sad for him. When I visit, 3 times a week and I bring our Pug dog with me, he always tells me he's lonely and misses living with us but thanks me for visiting and bringing the dog. He's so kind and gentle and it's heart breaking to not have him live with us. But, without going into too much detail, we just can no longer deal with his toilet needs, bathing, sleep habits, etc. He weighs over 225 and we can't pick him up if he falls again. We can't leave him by himself for anything longer than it takes to walk to the mail box and back. He's likely to try to feed the dog the half a ham left over from the holidays. He just doesn't know any better.

I don't know what we are going to do when we reach that point in our lives ourselves. Like Dad, we have the funds, but how can it be called living when every day feels like you've done nothing you would do if you had the choice? It's not a choice when it's limited by someone else as to what the options are in my opinion. Just to get a haircut or browse the hardware store is off the table. At least until someone is found to be willing to escort him. A 5 hour outing, hair, lunch and a trip to the library at $25 an hour twice a week is what we hired out for Dad when he was living with us. It was the only time DW and I could do anything we wanted or needed to do together for 2 years before we called it.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:31 AM   #10
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When my late wife came home after her brain aneurysm, I had installed grab bars on of the toilets, and grab bars in the bathrooms.
The toilets were easy-just unbolt the seat, install the appliance, and reinstall the seat. The shower was more of a problem, until I bought a tile drill to make the holes for the bars.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:36 AM   #11
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Your choices are 1) stay in their home but then you will need someone to take care of meals and meds. 2) senior living then/or assisted living 3) full nursing home. We did home until we couldn't. Assisted living was about $4K per month then we needed to add in caregivers to come and sit for 6 to 12 hours daily ($12 hr). Now we found our own caregiver after using those corporate type groups that charge $21 hour and the help is sub par. A dedicated care giver (that you pay and control) is worth whatever you must pay. After we found that person I made sure she was well taken care of. (ours was better than any family member we had). The caregiver sent me text each day on the progress. Lastly, I "friended" on face book several of the key senior living workers. I knew who was on each shift and could and did instant message to get progress. Hey u gotta do whatever u can!
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:38 AM   #12
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Grab bars on everything! My dad's biggest fall risk was to bear his full weight on anything waist high as we shuffled around the house. He kept forgetting his cane and his walking around was like watching a child first learn to walk; from one hold point to another. If what ever he grabbed couldn't hold him, down he'd go. The towel bar in the bathroom for example; getting out of his dressing chair, he'd reach for the towel bar and rip it from the wall and crash into the wall and on the floor.

Moving Dad to the memory care facility was the only way to keep him safe we finally had to admit.
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Old 01-12-2019, 10:58 AM   #13
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My Dad was fiercely independent until the last month of his life (just shy of 91 years old). He did recognize that he was a fall risk (bum knee) and agreed to "in home" monitoring.

For us, we had a Simplisafe alarm that he armed before bed and disarmed when getting up. He very rarely missed his "window" of doing so...almost ALWAYS at 8:10 PM and 7:15 AM. He also called me at 9:35 PM before going to bed. He did this religiously for several years.

In the last 6 months or so, I installed Amazon Blink cameras that had motion detection on them. I had 5 of them and installed them in areas so I could see the entire house, but respect his privacy (such as I could see if the bathroom light was on, but not see him doing his business). It was a good system and helped out a lot.

Finally, for several years, he had the Five Star transponder than would detect falls as well as have GPS tracking technology. While he was sharp as a tack and the odds of him getting lost were darn near zero, it was peace of mind in case he was out and about and fell.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:04 PM   #14
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I don't know what we are going to do when we reach that point in our lives ourselves. Like Dad, we have the funds, but how can it be called living when every day feels like you've done nothing you would do if you had the choice? It's not a choice when it's limited by someone else as to what the options are in my opinion.
skipro33: Thank you so much for your input. As to what you two (or I) will do when we start to fall apart: That's a whole other thread. But my current thinking is that I'm going to roll down a flight of very long stairs. Or so I currently claim... I have the money for senior care -- but why get diaper rash again? The film "The Leisure Seeker" (with Donald Sutherland and Helen Mirren) confirmed that I'm far from alone in thinking this way.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:06 PM   #15
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ExFlyBoy5: Will check out the Five Star transponder. Thanks.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:09 PM   #16
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imoldernu: I'm looking up the Echo now. Thank you!
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:43 PM   #17
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imoldernu: I'm looking up the Echo now. Thank you!
I agree with imoldenu that the Echo Dot/Amazon Alexa idea has real merit.

Just be aware that in addition to purchasing the communicating devices you will need a reliable wi-fi connection, a smart phone with the Alexa app to link to the contacts to whom you want to make calls, and an Amazon account. I mistakenly believed a Prime Membership was required but learned that is not the case.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:20 PM   #18
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I agree with imoldenu that the Echo Dot/Amazon Alexa idea has real merit.

Just be aware that in addition to purchasing the communicating devices you will need a reliable wi-fi connection, a smart phone with the Alexa app to link to the contacts to whom you want to make calls, and an Amazon account. I mistakenly believed a Prime Membership was required but learned that is not the case.
You do need all those items, however, MIL does not have a phone any longer. She has Alzheimer's so there's no point. So, we have an Echo Show at our house that is attached to my DW's phone and at MIL's house, her Echo Show is attached to my phone. The phone doesn't need to physically be at that location. DW had to program my phone and add a couple contacts to my phone for it to work but it works just fine.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:24 PM   #19
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The phone doesn't need to physically be at that location.
Good point. The phone/Alexa app is only needed to program the Echo and provide a contact list.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:33 PM   #20
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Skip, what you did for your dad was awesome. Yes no one wants to be in a institution. Luckily no one in my family has ever had any kind of dementia despite living a very long time. My friend had to go into a facility at 63 for Alzheimer’s because her husband died. She went downhill quickly after that. We went to visit often and it was sad to see the other residents decline as well.
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