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Keeping us on our toes

MGJ

New member
Oct 27, 2020
5
Dear DTP members,

I just wanted to share our family's story about our beautiful Mum and her fight with dementia.

Following our Dad's passing in 1985 (only a couple of years after their retirement) our Mum found herself living on her own in a first floor flat.
Although obviously extremely sad at not having her hubby of 50 years around any more, she kept herself very busy with a clutch of grandchildren from her ever expanding family (there were seven of we kids... 5 of them girls).
Her time in the war as a barrage balloon operator tempered her into a very strong and fiercely independent woman who found little problem fending for herself over the next couple of decades.

We first noticed mum was having problems in 2011.
I had seen one of her bank statements where it's quite obvious, by the number of direct debits she had set up, she was being targeted and scammed by unscrupulous 'chuggers'.
The first thing I did was become joint account holder with Mum and then cancelled all but two to of the 12 plus direct debits amounting to £70 a month.
The next thing was to purchase a True Call phone call minder system so that we could field incoming calls from family and friends against unknown numbers.
A wonderful product which I can update online to add, delete and update callers.

Soon after this my sisters and I decided to install two 'granny cams'.
These were located in the kitchen and the living room.
They weren't the best but at least we could keep an eye on her and phone if we saw any problems.
About 18 months later we updated the cameras to the Google Nest products and installed a third camera in the hallway which covered her front door. We could see and record anyone being let in by mum who was an unwelcome guest.
These Nest cameras became invaluable as time went on and mum's condition worsened.
On one particular night after mum had entered her room I heard a loud bang coming from Mum's bedroom which was received by the hallway camera.
I was so concerned at this unusual loud noise that I decided to drive over to Mum's and check things out.
I found mum on the floor in her bedroom, dazed but otherwise ok.
If it hadn't been for the hall camera picking up that sound mum would have been on the floor all night and nobody would have known until the morning.
It was agreed with my sister's that we install a final camera in Mum's bedroom which only my sister's had access to.
They would alert me if there were any issues.
This last camera has probably been the most valuable in the recent months.
The Nest cameras have alerted us to mum having a gastrointestinal bleed which resulted in her being hospitalized for a while in 2018.

As mum's condition has deteriorated over the years and months we have installed various other equipment which can be accessed remotely.
I put in in a Broadlink Pro which can learn various remote controls for the television and DVD player so we can change channels for Mum and turn on and off DVD player.
It also controls wall switches to allow us to turn on the bedside lamp and the sideboard lamp in the front room.
I also installed a mini PC which its behind the television and has Skype installed on it. We used this for a few months and could communicate with Mum which was especially nice for two of my sister's who live in Canada.
I set up Mum's Skype so that it would auto answer any of us calling her which meant she didn't have to fiddle around with any complicated controls.
It is also useful to flash up on the TV the occasional note suggesting mum has a drink or goes to the toilet.
I have even used it to ask her to place the receiver back on the phone correctly as sometimes she doesn't which obviously means we can't call her.

Mum's hearing is particularly bad and although she has hearing aids she either refuses to have them and most often takes them out.
We therefore had to buy a new phone with a volume booster just so that she can hear us when we call.

Local council social services have fitted handrails in various places of necessity within her flat.
They have also installed a door alarm in case she wanders out of the flat.
They also no installed a bed occupancy sensor which they monitor between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. so if mum is out of her bed for more than 30-minutes we will get a phone call.

However the Nest cameras have zones which I have set up so if mum does leave her bedroom anyone of the family will be alerted and we can then keep tabs on her through the nest app and go over if necessary.

There are two Nest smoke/CO detectors in in the kitchen and hallway which are also linked to the app so should anything happen we get alerted via the app even if mum didn't hear them.

I also installed a Nest thermostat because Mum got into the habit of turning it all the way up or all the way down because she wasn't sure what she was to do.
We can control the temperature of her flat remotely and if she does play with the dial I have set it so it is locked between 18 and 25 degrees.
This means she would neither be too hot or too cold.
This Nest unit it also allows us to set the times for water heating.

The most recent tweak I have done is to download an app called MacroDroid.
This permits me to create a series of actions from a single trigger.
In this particular case if there is a nest alert from the bedroom because Mum has got herself out of bed then the macrodroid programme will be able to turn on the bedside lamp automatically within 10 seconds, ensuring Mum's not fumbling in the dark for light switches (there are several auto PIR sensor lights dotted around which switch on as she passes and stay on for 15-20 seconds).

One of my sisters, who is Mum's principal carer, is retired now but was in occupational therapy most of her working life.
She has been an absolute godsend in organising the correct care company who come in in twice a day now (the family deal with mornings and evenings these days).
Ideally Mum could do with a full-time live-in carer but her local council don't offer this option.
We are trying to keep mum in her home which is the last thing still familiar to her.

Mum will be 98 in January.

Thanking you for all your wonderful work,
M
 

Izzy

Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
63,227
69
Dundee
Welcome to the forum @MGJ.

You’ve certainly done the best for your mum. Thank you for sharing.
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
749
I found your post so interesting.
I use the very, very cheap YI camera system sold by Amazon.
It is life changing.
I phone mum, she can’t be bothered to pick up the phone.
I feel concerned immediately.
Then I look on the app on my mobile phone. I see she was fine seven minutes previously, trundling down the hall with a nice hot cup of tea!
I will refer to your post as I upgrade in the future.
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
749
From where did you get your nest?
who set it up/installed it?
How much did it cost?
How much does it cost to run each month?
Is there a special level of broadband you require eg super fast fibre?
 

MGJ

New member
Oct 27, 2020
5
From where did you get your nest?
who set it up/installed it?
How much did it cost?
How much does it cost to run each month?
Is there a special level of broadband you require eg super fast fibre?
We bought all the Nest products from the Nest store. I didn't find their products cheaper elsewhere plus I wanted to ensure they were the 'real deal'.
I set up and installed all cameras (£130 each) smoke/CO alarms (£109 each) myself (although you can search for registered installers on the website).
The installation is relatively easy but a consideration is that each camera comes with a 3 metre USB cable and power adapter (UK 3 pin) so you need to ensure you can get mains power to each camera depending on where you position them in the home.
I found high in the corner of a room gives best coverage.
The smoke alarms are self contained with very long life batteries. There are very specific positions to place these according to each room so best use the guide which comes with it.
They connect via Bluetooth to each other and to your Nest app.
The comforting thing about the alarms are that they communicate with each other so say a fire broke out in the kitchen while you were asleep in bed, your bedroom alarm (plus all other connected alarms) would audibly notify you of where the fire broke out which could well assist you in evacuating via the safest route out.
If you purchase a Nest learning thermostat (£219) then, unless you are very competent in household electrics, I'd suggest getting a professional to at least wire it up for you (fortunately my friend is a sparky!).
In respect of energy consumption none of the products are heavy users (probably less than 2 Kwh per month)
However, although the cameras can be accessed to view real-time image capture they don't record video.
This is where the Nest subscriptions come in. Personally, I think they are quite reasonable for the peace of mind they offer. So the four cameras we have are set up with rolling 5 day, 24/7 video capture which can be accessed at any time. Each camera subscription is about £40 per year but you can have 10 day and 30 day subscriptions too.
Along with the subscriptions you get 3 hours of cloud storage should you want to save any video before it is deleted from the servers. Once saved, these saved videos are easily downloaded to your own PC/Drive.
Your Broadband is a big consideration, more for the upload speeds rather than downloads. With the four cameras, the thermostat and the smoke alarms I reckon you need a good 5 to 6 Mbps upload. Fibre would be the best option but again, is a cost implication.
Sorry for delay in replying but hope this helps