Life alert style system for my mom

Posted on
Sun Dec 02, 2018 7:40 pm
Dewster35 offline
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Joined: Jul 06, 2010
Location: Petoskey, MI

Life alert style system for my mom

So my mom has recently been released from the hospital and she has been having difficulty getting around in her house. I live 3 hours away from her and I would like to get her setup with some sort of life alert system.

My thought was to buy the new amazon echo device that has a z-wave controller built into it. Then pick up a keychain z-wave fob with a big button that she can click to send a message to me or dial 911.

Anyway, any suggestions anyone has would be greatly appreciated. The community here has always been awesome for silly stuff, but I'm confident you guys will come through in the clutch in this serious situation. Thank you for your help!

Posted on
Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:08 pm
lanbrown offline
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Joined: Sep 26, 2017

Re: Life alert style system for my mom

This is just me and my opinion. I would go with an actual life alert system or one like it. I have no idea how big of a place she has, but Z-wave may not cover it. It also would require that she push a button; if she fell, she may not be able to push the button.

Posted on
Sun Dec 02, 2018 9:38 pm
roussell offline
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Location: Alabama

Re: Life alert style system for my mom

I think what you’re looking for is the concept of a “dead man’s switch” - please pardon the morbid name. It’s something that’s used in industrial situations a lot and basically is a safety mechanism that is engages when a human becomes incapacitated, immobile, or otherwise unable to signal for help.

In this instance- have a button, but that’s only 1 of several layers. I’d also have Alexa configured so that she could call you or others by voice AND so that you can “drop in” on her to monitor how she’s doing. I would also have a logic engine that is essentially a watchdog timer that when reaches 0, alerts several people via email/text/however to check on her. Certain things in the house reset the count of the watchdog timer - lights being switched on, motion sensors, on/off of couch,chair,bed sensors. Refrigerator opening, and anything else in her daily routine that could be detected electronically and monitored. Monitor a bunch of different conditions and use that data to develop an activity timeline. Set the timer to time-out just afterwards any of those events should occur and you should end up with a system that notifies responsible parties within a small window of time after something happens - even if she is unable to call for help or push a button

I agree with lanbrown, in that I would seriously look at a commercial system, even if not “life alert”; several alarm companies have that feature now. I would also augment it with Alexa and the concepts I mention above just in case something happens and she couldn’t push a button or call out for help.

Terry


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Posted on
Mon Dec 03, 2018 10:12 am
jay (support) offline
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Re: Life alert style system for my mom

When I was investigating this late last year, one issue I had with Echo devices is that they required a smartphone to set them up for voice calling. Which is a no go in my Mom's house for 2 reasons: 1) she doesn't have a smart phone and 2) there isn't reliable cell coverage where she lives (yes, gasp!).

There were some very backhanded ways that people somehow figured out how to make it work, but it felt like one of those "pray it works" kinda things.

Now that Alexa can do routines, I could put an Indigo Server in her house and have "Alexa, help" do something via the Indigo Server. There are a bunch of skills out there to help with older folks, but all of them require "Alexa, tell BLAH that I need help" or some such. No way is my 88 year old mother going to remember that. "Alexa, help" is likely as much as she'll ever remember (if that).

We're very lucky that she's still in very good shape and she has a helper come in several days a week. But when things start getting dodgy I'll have to revisit this.

Jay (Indigo Support)
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Posted on
Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:11 am
RogueProeliator offline
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Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: Life alert style system for my mom

Not sure the finances involved and the situation, but what about a new Apple Watch -- don't they do fall detection? I don't know how easy/hard they are to use, but I would suspect teaching her to call you via it for help (without a fall) wouldn't be too bad?

Posted on
Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:26 pm
Dewster35 offline
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Joined: Jul 06, 2010
Location: Petoskey, MI

Re: Life alert style system for my mom

You guys rock. Thank you for all of the advice.

She's 66 years old but prone to fall. She's fairly with it mentally so I don't think that would be an issue.

She does have wifi, and she's also already got a Mac mini, which doesn't run all the time but that could be remedied.

My thought was to leverage the echo since other than the mini, she really doesn't have any home automation infrastructure that could already be leveraged. I have zero experience with the new echo, but thought it would be a decent alternative. Her house is very small and a central location of one would be well within its capabilities based on what I've seen. Obviously she would have to be aware of the fall, which makes me wonder if the watch would be the way to go, but then she would have to always wear it.

She's very stubborn and independent and doesn't want help so the less intrusive the better.

I feel like perhaps a multi layered approach would be best and I certainly have enough unused sensors laying around that I could do that, I'm just not sure what the best approach would be. Perhaps just go with indigo and the home bridge and some z-wave motion sensors? She's been reluctant to my suggestions about adding home automation to make her life easier, but maybe I just need to throw it out there and she can use it?

Sorry if I'm being bothersome, but this has been difficult to figure out without someone to talk it through with.

Posted on
Mon Dec 03, 2018 6:41 pm
roussell offline
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Location: Alabama

Re: Life alert style system for my mom

The cool thing is that with Zwave (or Insteon) switches and motion/door/smoke/water sensors you don’t HAVE to automate anything. Start out by just monitoring activity and then slowly introduce an automation here-and-there. Even if it’s simple dusk to dawn, or motion activated lights.

Terry


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Posted on
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:38 am
mundmc offline
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Joined: Sep 14, 2012

Re: Life alert style system for my mom

I agree that sensors + the awesome Time Devices plugin could be a good indicator. What I would do:
- Put some Zwave Monoprice/Zooz sensors around the house.
- Map the activity on Grafana, to get an idea of the sensor’s reliability
- Make one Timed Device that, if it times out, alerts you to check in, in case she is immobilized and having trouble with Alexa (so you can Drop In)

Posted on
Thu Dec 06, 2018 11:02 am
blysik offline
Posts: 213
Joined: Jan 06, 2015

Re: Life alert style system for my mom

The new Apple Watch has fall detection: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208944

Unfortunately it would require a paired iPhone to setup the watch.

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