The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Electronic Monitors

At a recent support group meeting, members were talking about various ways to electronically monitor their loved ones.

By the time I get to bed, I'm so exhausted that I sleep really deeply. My daughter came to visit and told me that she her father got up in the middle of the night and tried to go outside "to find your mother." She talked him into going back to bed, but how long has this been going on? What if he figures out how to unlock the door? I need a warning system. -- Maxine

Judy, another group member, recommended an alarmed door stop. They sell on Amazon sell from $3 to $7 each. (Or you can pay hundreds, but Judy says her cheaper one works just fine. ) These work just like one of those old rubber stoppers except that trying to move the door sets off an alarm. Here's a page of door stop alarms.

Howard takes afternoon naps that almost always last a couple of hours. I'd like to be able to get out and do some shopping and such when he's sleeping but I wouldn't feel safe doing that unless I could monitor him. I know there are baby monitors but I don't want to carry something like that around. Isn't there something I can put on my phone? -- Linda

A group member told Linda about the smart phone app she used as a monitor. We found a couple for you to consider. Which one you would prefer would depend on personal preference:

Presence requires two I-phones i05 or better. You set up one to be the camera to video and use your personal iPhone as the monitor. It can be set to start recording when it detects motion. You can also use the monitoring phone to initiate a two-way conversation. Neither picture nor audio is great, but it might get the job done. This app is free from the Apple Store.

iCamSpy comes in iPhone, Android and PC/Mac versions. It uses a PC with a webcam and microphone for surveillance and the phone for monitoring. You don't have any two-way features but the video is apparently quite good. You can set it up to start with low, medium or high motion sensitivity. This works well with Wi-Fi but poorly with 3G/4G. This app costs $4 from the Apple Store or Google Play.

We have the opposite problem. Jimmy likes to take walks and its pretty safe in our neighborhood. He can go around the block and never have to cross a street but still I worry. I've heard about tracker watches but don't know what to buy. -- Gladys

Colin is in a memory care facility. Our home is too far away for me to go every day but we can phone although Colin can't figure out how to use a cell phone and the land line is long distance. Surely there's something out there that will work for us. -- Yvonne

The Verison Gizmo Gadget would probably work for both Gladys and Yvonne. Caregivers who have tried it report that it is designed as a child's watch but "doesn't look childish." It has a GPS that Gladys can use to keep track of Jimmy. It is also a very simple phone. Colin need only tap a "ringing phone" icon twice to answer the phone or call a preprogrammed number. If Colin doesn't answer, the phone automatically answers in ten seconds, which would allow Yvonne to know what's going on around Colin. You have to be a Verizon customer to use this gadget and it costs $149 initially plus an additional $5 a month. However, it does have great reviews in a variety of places. This PC Magazine article describes it and Verison's ad does too. It has other features too but they only show up if you want them to. All Colin would see are the phone icons.

Getting Lew in and out the car is almost impossible for me anymore. I wish doctors still make home visits. We Skype my son and his family all the time. Wouldn't it be great if we could just Skype the doctor? -- Janice

We wouldn't recommend that Janice give up taking Lew to the doctor altogether, but Teledoc is a virtual health service that might act as a supplement for things like a UTI. Virtual visits to qualified doctors take place over the phone or through video. They also offer two- and three-party calling to keep you as the caregiver involved with every visit, giving you more flexibility. Available any time of day, seven days a week, they cover non-emergency care for such conditions as colds, flu, rashes, respiratory infections and more. The first visit may be free and following visits are $45 until Oct. 31, 2017, after which they are $49. AARP CARECONNECT for Family Caregivers.

To help collect information for your virtual doctor's visit you might like to use a fitness tracker. The URBST Fitness Tracker for is also a wireless Bluetooth 4.0 heart rate monitor and sleep monitor. It acts as a traditional watch as well. Sync it wirelessly to your smart phone or PC. Because it is waterproof and has a long life battery, it doesn't have to be removed very often. (I've worn a similar one for almost two years!) $38.90 on Amazon. It does only come in black. This one was relatively inexpensive and had five stars--a winner in our book! Click here to review or buy.

Feel free to make more suggestions. If we get enough, we'll do another blog!

We love and welcome comments but we will not print any that advertise a product or a commercial website. This is especially true for testimonials about miraculous Parkinson's cures.

* Acronyms:
LBD: Lewy body dementia
PD: Parkinson's disease
PlwD: person living with dementia
DLB: dementia with Lewy bodies
PDD: Parkinson's disease with dementia
PlwD, PD, LBD, PDD, etc: person/people living with dementia
PlwPD, LBD, PDD, etc.: person/people living with PD, LBD, PDD, etc.
MCI: mild cognitive impairment
MCI-LB: the form of MCI that precedes LBD
BPSD: behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia

For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

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