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Keeping someone safe at home

Are you worried about someone who is living at home alone? Using technology to monitor their movements and remind them of the need to eat or take medication may be a good solution

If you are the relative or loved one of a person with dementia, it’s understandable that as their condition gets progressively worse, you may have concerns about leaving them at home alone for long periods. Yet if you don’t live nearby, work long hours or have your own young family to care for, you may not be able to visit them every day. And even those who can find the time for daily visits may still have concerns about the wellbeing of the person with dementia when they do go home.

When talking to those who have cared for relatives with dementia, we have heard some worrying accounts of what can happen when a person is left home alone, unmonitored. One carer told us about her mother being locked outside her house at night, in the winter, without a key. Fortunately, neighbours were able to help and take care of her until help arrived. But had they not been around, the situation could have been much worse. Another carer told us her mother tipped all of her medication out of a dosette box and was about to take a week’s supply in one go until a neighbour dropped in and stopped her. It can be dangerous for the person to live alone.

However, a person with dementia may not be willing to accept that they need constant monitoring and may dismiss the idea of going into a care home. In this instance, another solution may be to use the latest technology to watch over them. If you could watch over a person in need of 24-hour care every minute of the day, it is unlikely they would forget to take medication, wander out of the house, leave the cooker on, struggle getting dressed, or forget they have visitors coming. Assistive technology is a possible solution that can make a big difference to the person, their family and carers. There are simple gadgets that can provide early warnings when a person rises from their bed or chair and may be at risk from a fall. There are also simple mechanical aids to help with getting dressed, products that give verbal or visual reminders for daily routines, alarms to detect and raise an alert to external doors opening, personal tracking devices to help locate wandering people, and a multitude of everyday low-cost gadgets that can make life less stressful.

Useful products

For help with failing memory, Easylink UK has developed a range of products branded MemRabel. The MemRabel products are very successful in helping people remember to take medication, to eat or drink, and perform daily chores. The MemRabel allows you to use either pre-recorded or your own voice reminders to accompany a photo or video, which can be programmed to play back at various alarm times during the day.

With falls at home always a risk; there are products available that can dramatically reduce falls. Easylink UK manufactures sensor alarms for bed and chair rise, which quickly transmit an alarm to a carer that a person is on the move.

There are so many products available on the high street that may help. Some prime examples are one-cup instant boil kettles, a great aid for the elderly or those with limited limb mobility, as there is no need to lift a heavy kettle and risk burns, and they also save money. Simple mechanical grabbers save people from reaching too far and help prevent falls. Battery powered tin openers make it easy to open a tin, even if they do have ring-pulls on them, which can be difficult and dangerous to open.

For many people living on their own, the TV is a constant companion. Yet knowing how to use the TV remote control can become increasingly challenging for a person with dementia, especially as modern remotes now have numerous buttons. But now you can buy simple remote controls that have contain just basic functions. They have fewer buttons (usually just an on and off switch, plus channels and volume), making the device less confusing. These are just a few examples of many similar products that can help someone with cognitive issues.

For more ideas and solutions for safety at home visit