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How technology has helped my mother

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New member
Aug 12, 2018
My mother is 90 years old and was diagnosed 4 years ago. She has good mobility.

6 months ago my brother moved out of her house, meaning that my sister and I had to take over her care. We both live faraway from my mother.

We firstly took advantage of what Poole Social Services had to offer. She now has three visits per day at home for dressing etc. She attends the day centre 7 days per week, from 10am to 4pm and is escorted to and from there by taxi accompanied by a carer. She has a hot meal at the day centre (£6 per day plus more for drinks!).

My sister and I stay with her around 20 days per month, sometimes less. A couple of other family members who live locally will respond in an emergency but do not take part in her care plan.

It is important that we know what is going on in her house when we are away. Here's how I set up some monitoring devices.

Firstly, I installed an exterior camera that shows the front door and road. (ieGeek Security WiFi Outdoor Camera 1080P Waterproof Home Surveillance Bullet IP Camera With 25m Night Vision,Remote Viewing, Motion Detection and Push Alerts for Android/iOS/PC Black, £49.99 from Amazon). This uses CamHi software and is relatively easy to install (using 2.4GHz Wifi only).

Then I installed two ceiling bulb cameras (after trying several others that didn't work properly), one in the downstairs hall, one in my mother's bedroom. (D3D Light Bulb Camera With 360° Wireless Fisheye Panoramic View Remotly Controlled, Mobile App, LED Bulb(support upto 128 GB SD card) (white Color) Model:D1005WY, £49.90 from Amazon). They use ipc360 Android software and are easy to install (using 2.4GHz Wifi only). They record on motion detection and store the recordings on sdcards. Recordings are easy to access using the software. They also alert you when there is motion but they are too sensitive unfortunately, as they respond to changes in light. Still, these are the best cameras. You can install a ceiling screw light fitting. I joined a cable from the nearby light for power in the hall. In the bedroom I used the existing pendant light socket, relying on table lamps for illumination (more on that later).

I bought an £80 Android phone for monitoring and controlling the lounge. (Geemai Huawei Y5 2018 / Y5 Prime 2018 / Honor 7s Cover [Card Holder] [Magnetic Closure] Premium Leather Flip Wallet Case Cover for Huawei Y5 2018 / Y5 Prime 2018 / Honor 7s Smartphone, Blue, from Amazon) I installed the free program Alfred and placed it on top of a tall bookcase. I can connect to this phone using my own Android phone and see my mother's sofa and the TV. The phone is always on. I use this excellent stand to hold it properly (Tablet Stand, Lamicall Adjustable Tablet Holder : Desktop Stand Dock Compatible with New Pad 2018 Pro 10.5 / 9.7 / 12.9, Air mini 2 3 4, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Tab, other Tablets - Black, £16 from Amazon). I'll explain how I use the cameras later.

All of the lights are low energy, so I don't mind keeping them on most or all of the time. The lounge has 3 floor lights. One is on all the time. Two are operated by Wifi plugs (Smart Plug WiFi Outlet TECKIN Mini Plug Works with Amazon Alexa(Echo,Echo Dot), Google Home and IFTTT, Wireless Smart Socket Remote Control Timer Plug Switch, No Hub Required 2 PackSmart Plug WiFi Outlet TECKIN Mini Plug Works with Amazon Alexa(Echo,Echo Dot), Google Home and IFTTT, Wireless Smart Socket Remote Control Timer Plug Switch, No Hub Required 2 Pack, £25 from Amazon). These are the best (I have two TP-link ones that couldn't be installed). They are timed to go on at 6am and off at midnight. They also control other devices (see below). There is another wifi plug in mum's bedroom which operates the most powerful bedside lamp I could find. A closer bedside lamp can be turned on by the carers. I also mounted a motion activated LED light on the picture rail, in case she gets up in the night. I also have a night light plugged into a socket.

I use child light switch locks to keep the kitchen light, hall light and camera, bedroom camera and other switches on permanently. These are also to prevent carers and others turning the lights off without realising that mum won't be able to turn them back on. (Switch Bridge 3 Pack Lock Covers Prevent Accidental Switching Whilst Allowing Easy Access for intentional Switching, Ideal for Hue, £4 from Amazon).

My mother wears a lifeline pendant which can be used to locate her, talk two-way, and is a fall alarm. This is the best one (PS Tracker - Fall Alert - Mini GPS - Small Size Makes This Great For Every Day Use - Tracker For Dementia - Alzheimer's Tracker - SOS Button Allows Two Way Communication - Find The Wearer Instantly With Your Phone - Great For Kids At Festivals - Be Alerted If The Wearer Wanders - Alerts If Fall Detected., £120 from Amazon). It can also be used to listen in without making a ring tone. My mother doesn't need to press any buttons.

After failing to us Skype on an Android tablet, I bought an Alexa Echo Show for two-way video communication. The quality is excellent and mum loves it. She doesn't need to touch it to work. I and others use the Alexa phone app to ring her up. It is plugged into a wifi plug and turns off at night and on in the morning. It sometimes freezes and can be turned off and on remotely. It also can be used play music and videos using voice commands. The Echo Show could be an incredible device but has been poorly thought out.

Connected to the Android phone in the lounge is a mini speaker (Anker Bluetooth Speaker, SoundCore mini, Super Portable Speaker with 15-Hour Playtime, 20 Meter Bluetooth Range, Enhanced Bass, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Nexus, HTC, Laptops and More, £20 from Amazon). These are excellent quality. I use it to talk to mum if Alexa fails. Also, it can give verbal commands to Alexa, e.g. to play photos from our Amazon Prime family album, play music from Spotify or Amazon Prime, play some films (though it is limited).

Mum cannot operate a phone anymore but can answer it. We bought one with photo buttons but she never managed to use it. This is the best one (website https://www.unforgettable.org/doro-memoryplus-319i-ph £40)

Next to the Alexa Echo Show is a photo frame that plays a random selection of photos and videos. This is by far the best one (
NIX Advance Digital Photo Frame 10 inch X10H. Electronic Photo Frame USB SD/SDHC. Clock and Calendar Function. Digital Picture Frame with Motion Sensor. Remote Control and 8GB USB Stick Included
, £95 from Amazon). To avoid the odd freeze, photos should have a certain ratio. We get around this by plugging it into the same wifi plug which starts and stops it once a day. Mum loves this photo frame.

We bought a 50" Hitachi smart TV and a satellite receiver (Free TV (Lite v2) Full HD Free To Air Satellite Receiver, PVR Via USB,Video/Music Player Via USB, Receive UK Freesat Stations ,Free To Air Box,12 Volt, £36 from Amazon). Both can be operated using a wifi remote (Upgraded] Broadlink RM Pro+ Upgraded WIFI+IR+RF Universal Remote Controller App Control 80,000 IR+RF Home Devices TVs, DVD, Air Conditioner C Units, RF Sockets, Projector Theaters?, £37 from Amazon). Only buy this one. It emulates remote controls. So I can turn the TV on/off, change channels/inputs, etc. I turn on the TV manually at 6pm (I cannot find a way to automate this but it forces me to check the lounge).

Perhaps the most important entertainment for mum is classical music. In the kitchen there is a DAB radio with 4 timers (Spitalfields Retro DAB / DAB+ Digital FM Portable Radio / Alarm Clock / Leather Effect Finish / Mains Powered / Rechargable Battery / Subwoofer / Premium Stereo Sound (Black), £40 from Amazon). I had to return 3 of these before getting a reliable one. The radio comes on at 7am and goes off at 10am, on at 4pm and off at 6pm.

Mum has lots of photo albums and other memorabilia. When I am there I leave some out on the kitchen table. The house is covered with instructions to visitors but I'm not sure anyone pays attention to them, apart from simple ones like Turn Off next to the kettle switch.

Daily routine when I am away
Check mum is up and dressed around 8am
Check she has left for the day centre at 10am
Turn on TV around 6pm.
Check lounge around 7pm. If mum is there, I mute the TV and make a video call.
Check mum is in bed at 10pm and turn off main bedside light.

Well that's about it. My sister and I always know where mum is and can speak to her anytime. The carers can also contact us via Alexa if there is a problem (this has happened once). Her quality of life has been greatly improved since involving social services, installing the radio and photo frame and controlling the TV.

I also fitted motion activated lights at the front and rear of the house. I made a 5' fence and gate to prevent mum leaving via the back door (the key is always in the lock in case she has to leave in an emergency). The front door key is kept in a combination lock key safe (website https://www.diy.com/departments/master-lock-combination-reinforced-key-safe/265025_BQ.prd £31 from B&Q).


New member
Apr 9, 2018
Hi I know this post was some time ago but am looking for help to set up some technology in my husbands Care Home Room. He is mute, unable to move, but loves his tv and would watch it all the time. However with the best will the staff can not continually operate his tv remote to Suit his needs all the time. So quite often when I drop in on him using the Echo Show he’s watching some awful Tv programme that has just been left on. His tv is not a smart tv but the WiFi in the Care Home is adequate & the Echo works well. There is also a young Carer who is relatively techie savvy, but had a look at Broadlink on Amazon and the reviews say setup is not straightforward and instructions are rubbish. Would really appreciate your advice? Hope you pick up this reply?
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