I made this site as I there seems to be a gap in the marketplace, where the tools out there are focused on the professional caregiver space. Not that it’s a bad thing, but what about the rest of us who have family in the early stages?
Now I’m sure you’re all excited to find ways to do things, but hold on there for a minute, I have a few learnings and pearls of wisdom I wish to share which may save you some headaches.
- Ask yourself: is this right for me & us? The comment I get the most is “should you not think of assisted living instead of this?”, which is well-intended but also.. not wrong. Everyone’s situation is different, if you can consult with a health professional to see what the best scenario is before diving into this rabbit hole. Maybe it’s time to rethink lodging and support, maybe it’s not, and home is always the best place as long as it’s safe of course.
- Alzheimer’s makes it so that those affected by it will find it really hard to learn new things, if they still can. My mom can’t learn anything new at this stage so everything I put in place has to be seamless, invisible or labeled. If she can see some warning like “This is JP’s don’t touch” she will (hopefully) put it back where she found it (I’m still looking for a 4-in-1 multisensor), If there is a new skill or habit to be acquired, this is a slippery slope. Also be mindful that some automations may startle and confuse, most people are not used to walk into a room and something happens. This is even more important to take into account with Alzheimer’s patients as they lost the ability to cope with change.
- Tech-Savviness. If you’re reading this, odds are you need to get some info and need a hand. Just go at your own pace, and as with #1, don’t expect to explain or teach new tech things to Alzheimer’s patients. Keep it simple, it usually works better.
- Eat your own dog food. If you have never used home automation tools before and you deploy them at someone else’s home, you’re in for an adventure. The condition we are all trying to manage makes things hard enough, let’s make things easy on ourselves by learning on our time by ourselves in our own homes so when we are ready to install these new devices, we know what we’re doing. I’ve been automating our home for 5+ years now and have learned tons doing it, so I can make things work when I’m at my mom’s easily. Plus you may just get to like this stuff.
- Everybody has an opinion: especially me! So if you get advice, make sure to ponder it and not apply it blindly. Many have good intentions but miss the context and/or have no experience with this situation. Alzheimer’s makes the home automation context somewhat different. Go with your situation and what you wish to accomplish, research & read from there, then try things. Lots of well-meaning folks out there, that does not mean they’re always right or understand what it feels like in your shoes.
- Budget accordingly, if you take point #3 to heart it may mean doubling costs for certain things. Plus cheap does not mean good usually. In the resources section you will find places to look for answers prior to spending for the tools. “Is this thing any good and will it work in my system” are good starting questions really, don’t be shy of asking for simple info. Please note that this site focused on easily affordable products and not the high-end products like Control4 as I can’t play with them but everything discussed here should be applicable.
- Project lifespan: one thing which can happen is that an Alzheimer patient’s condition deteriorates quickly and your smart home tech you added may be for a short period of time, so 1) budget accordingly, 2) is there somewhere else you can use this stuff and 3) at worst you sell on eBay or FB marketplace, but plan with this in mind.
- Expect things to not always work. Does your smartphone always work? Your Wi-Fi router? You car? So hope for the best and plan for the worst (within reason). I live 300 kilometers from my mom’s so I set expectations accordingly for myself and have some people close by I can call to help if need be.
- Engineers: beware of these very smart folks! We all have them in our families, no? I have my brother with a masters degree in microelectronics engineering and there is no way I’m letting build a contraption I can’t support myself (not that he would he’s too busy) but you get the picture. If you entourage can make it and codes it for cheaper and works better you should not use it as you’re depending on that person. Off the shelf is better as there are online groups and vendor support that can help. Plus getting home-made stuff to work with hubs and other devices may not always be a picnic. Beware of engineers! Run away bravely!😁
- Internet of Things Vs Smart Home: you will encounter the expression “Internet of Things” (or IoT) as you read on, and to simply things, the smart home is a subset of the IoT world. IoT can be applied to businesses, manufacturing, healthcare and so on. It’s that simple.
- Have fun. Why not? If you grew up playing with Legos and similar toys, many things here are similar but for us grown-ups.
- Ask questions. In the resources section, you will find forums where you will find help and most importantly be able to ask questions. Don’t be shy, the worst is to stay in the dark by yourself. You can reach me via the contact page but bear in mind that I don’t know everything (although I wish) and may take time to respond. Forum users will usually respond more quickly. Plus YouTube is a goldmine, folks like Reed and Brian are diamonds!
Plant for the worst, hope for the best and avoid the dentist:
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