Sometimes we need help and others may be involved in case of worry or emergency or just to check up on things. Here is a list of ideas you can use to make sure loved ones can get the help they need:

  • Smart locks: love these personally, so much can be done with them. In the case of lending a hand the easy win is remotely unlock a door without having issues or causing damage to the door and lock. Plus you have your smartphone on you at all times. What I’m considering is the basic August lock for my mom’s house as I get to keep the existing barrel & key, plus I can add a keypad which is separate from the door to prevent confusion to let in caregivers. Just make sure to set up things so you don’t lock people out with a short re-lock timer and schedules. 
  • Doors: unlocking and opening doors can be automated or remotely controlled to grant access to  family members, caregivers and others. The two main types to consider:
    • Front, side and back doors: using as smart door lock with the existing key and mechanism can be a great addition. By keeping the existing key the disruption with the new equipment is less likely to cause problems for the person with Alzheimer’s
    • Garage: this one can be really useful and you don’t need to add anything new to the exterior of the house, nor cause confusion. Usually it is built-in the newer door openers like the MyQ series from Chamberlain or you can add this functionality to an existing unit as well but do your homework and make sure the add-on is compatible with the door opener in place.
  • Medical braceletsin Canada & in the US we have Medicalert which makes bracelets with key medical and respondent information. Ok it’s not smart home tech but it’s very useful. If the person responding for help needs access to the property they contact you and you use that smart lock to provide access. For other parts of the world, Medicalert is also available or there are similar systems, Google is your best friend along with your local Alzheimer’s society.
  • Glocalization: with Alzheimer’s disease, some patients will wander and get lost so we need to find our runaways. A few tools worth mentioning:
    • Apple Air Tags: surprisingly efficient, affordable but needs an Apple device for initial setup (Apple refurbished iPhone and iPads on Amazon are a great choice just make sure the one you get is recent enough to support this and right now it’s iOS 14.5 or better which is needed). It will leverage Bluetooth and it uses all the Apple Bluetooth devices within range for coverage like iPhones for location data. Where does one go where there is no Apple device close by, regardless of the owner? My mom has one in her purse which I told her is a keychain, no need to complexify the discussion. Other vendors have similar systems but avoid Bluetooth-only like Tile as range is extremely limited.
    • GPS trackers: there are plenty out there and they are a good tool but there is a drawback: they drain batteries really quickly. If your loved one lives alone, I would not go for this as they have to remember to recharge these devices daily.
    • Smartphone apps: if they carry one, use that! “Find my” from Apple or Google (Android) can be used just for that. there is also an app named Life360 which is pretty interesting.
    • Here is an interesting matrix of available tracking devices and tools in Canada, but should be portable globally and a checklist you can base yourself on to make the best decision. Again talk to your local Alzheimer’s society for advice as they see what works and what does not.
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