Passive Remote Monitoring System Helps Distant Family Members Keep an Eye on Independent Elderly Living Alone

product review by Audrey Kinsella

This week, we profile another entry in our series on the rise of online tools for adult children to track daily activities of elderly parents living independently in their own homes. Using a combination of Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), wireless motion detectors and other sensors,SimplyHome (Asheville, NC) helps adult children observe their parents' daily routines and estimate their safety no matter how far away they are located. 

Though similar to the systems previously profiled in this series — CareZone, Inc.; Independa; ContinuLink; and Saturing* — this service is more "hands on" than others in the category. Short of the assistance of onsite caregivers, the SimplyHome system approaches an immediacy of contact. 

Wireless motion detectors strategically placed throughout the home provide insights into elders' activities, allowing responses should they deviate from established routines. "Paging Pendants" can be added to the system should the need for PERS be identified during an initial assessment.

The individual assessment always precedes installation of equipment. It includes an evaluation of both the elderly persons' and their adult child's needs and daily activities. From this study, the level of support required from SimplyHome technologies is determined. The range of unobtrusive, wireless motion detectors and other sensors that are installed address these particular needs.

It may be determined, for example, that there is a need to monitor falls, wandering, inactivity or cooking safety. Once installed, they begin to learn the individual's normal routines. Sensors may be placed on the stove, microwave oven and refrigerator, motion detectors in the bedroom, kitchen and bathrooms, etc. Detailed information is tracked about normal daily activities so that later communications alerts can be sent from SimplyHome base units to call centers when abnormal activitiy is detected. There, trained responders may make phone calls to alert family caregivers who can decide whether additional response is needed.

Regular tracking by sensors and timely responses by trained call center staff are what Allen Ray, CEO of SimplyHome, says set his company apart from other services in this category. He told us, "By creating a supportive home environment, SimplyHome allows loved ones to age in place while enjoying independent living." Family clients participate by responding to alerts of possible problems such as changes in the elderly adult's sleeping patterns or numbers of evening trips to the bathroom. As a result, they will want to contact professional caregivers for assistance, thus taking a proactive rather than reactive role to needed changes that the elderly adult requires to continue living safely and comfortably at home.

Costs of the SimplyHome System: 
Purchase price starts at $1,200, which includes the system, its base unit, plus components such as motion sensors and door/window contact alert mechanisms. It can be leased for $175.00/month.

Monthly fee for monitoring, communication alerts, and access to the company's web site is $59.95 without connection to the call center and $79.95 with this connection.

Priced separately, the SimplyHome PERS can be purchased for $124.95, with a $27.95/month fee for call center connection.

*Locate previous reviews in Audrey's excellent series by using our search tool on the HCTR home page. Click on "Search Articles" and enter a company name into the search field. 

Audrey Kinsella, MA, MS, has written on home telehealthcare and new technologies for home care service delivery for 20 years, in 6 books, multiple web sites, and more than 150 published articles.  She can be reached at: telehealthcare@lycos.comor 828-252-8571. Review the full article HERE