Increasing age need not translate to a reduced quality of life. Elderly people can remain active and independent and live alone easily as long as certain safety and security aspects are enhanced. The devices described below can help in providing such a safe environment.
Smart Video Door Phone
A common safety device that lets you see and talk to a visitor before you open a door is the video door phone. In its basic configuration it consists of an outdoor unit with a camera, microphone & speaker system and a push-button. The indoor unit contains a display screen that connects to the camera. It also has a microphone and speaker system that lets you have a two way conversation with the visitor. The screen, microphone and speaker are usually activated by a switch or button inside.
Operating such a video door phone requires you to physically approach the door. For the elderly, this may not always be convenient. However, there are smart versions of door phones that help alleviate this problem. Now-a-days the door phones can connect to an indoor wifi system. The camera and microphone feed can then be received on a hand-held device, such as a mobile phone or a tablet. For those who have hearing problems, the hand-held device can also provide a visual or a louder audio alert that there is someone at the door.
It is then possible to communicate with the visitor without having to walk to the door. Some models can even integrate with the door lock / security system, and unlock the door remotely. This provides an additional layer of convenience without compromising on safety.
Smart Stove Knob
Most of us – on one occasion or another – have wondered whether we had switched off the stove before leaving the house. With the elderly this becomes a bigger problem as they are more likely to leave the house, or even fall asleep with the stove on. A smart stove knob can prevent a mishap in such a situation.
The smart knob works with a smoke detector installed in the kitchen. The knob itself is designed to replace existing stove knobs, so it does not need the existing stove to be replaced. In case smoke or fire is detected, the knob can switch off the stove as an automatic precautionary measure. Additionally, the knob can be controlled remotely using a mobile App. So you can check the position of the knob and if necessary switch it off remotely even before something goes wrong.
Inactivity Alert System
As the name suggests, an inactivity alert system tracks the time for which no activity has been detected in its field of view. Normally it would be installed in the corner of a room, so that the entire room can be monitored. For best results a house would have more than one device installed – for instance one each in the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
This system essentially tracks the breach of a routine. The individual units can be programmed with the time period within which some activity is expected to happen. For example, an inactivity tracker for the kitchen can be programmed to expect activity during meal times. If no activity is detected in the specified time period an alert is generated and information is sent to pre-determined phone numbers.
The advantage an inactivity alert system has over camera or activity based systems is that it affords you better privacy. A camera based system usually captures snippets of motion and makes it available to a caregiver. Activity based systems try to determine the activity that is taking place and whether it conforms to a known routine. These two systems may intrude into your privacy, but will be more prompt in detecting an abnormal situation. An inactivity based system will by design allow a certain time to elapse before raising an alert. For this purpose it is generally used in conjunction with other safety systems.
A few simple devices can easily enhance indoor safety for the elderly, giving them the freedom to enjoy life on their own terms.