We discussed motion in other sections, because this is really useful. Having motion sensors talking to your home automation hub and enabling routines is a game changer. At our house the lights turn off at 10:30PM every day but when the smart lock is unlocked from 10:30PM to 6AM, a series of lights automatically turn on for 20 minutes so we don’t walk in the dark. Presence is determined by the smart lock in this case.

Take this idea and build from it for your situation! Here are things to consider implementing:

  • Turn lights on and off based on motion and time of day
  • Set smart nighttime routines to make sure no one gets lost or hurt
  • Set “lack of motion” routines to make sure everyone is safe. If there is no motion in front of the refrigerator for X hours, no one ate, send an alert to a smartphone so someone can check on things. If there is no motion in front of the bathroom door, there are other issues to manage. You get the drift.
  • Door management can be done with an open/close sensor and motion sensor, where the person is around (or not) and then you can take action to close the door left open.

Make sure you get pet-aware/safe motion sensors too, you won’t want to get false positives at night when the cat strolls around the house. Or when the dog sees a squirrel outside!

Presence sensors will do something similar, where you don’t need to detect movement but if someone is someplace. Say someone is watching tv and falls asleep on the couch, there is no movement but there is still someone there. Here is an article on the topic which is worth the read. A bit like “heat vision” if you will.

Now location is complementary to motion and presence, where the idea is to determine where someone or something is telling your smart home if it’s within range or not. In other words it’s a form of glocalization tied to the home. It could be a smartphone but with Alzheimer’s’ that’s not optimal so there are some smart trackers on the market you can add/hide to key personal items which will enable routines based on their presence or absence. The Fibaro keychain is a good example but make sure you don’t program any actions for the buttons as we just want presence management. If you use Apple’s HomeKit the AirTag can be really interesting.

With location you get alerted when a behavior is triggered so you can take action like making sure the wearer has not wandered off.  Same idea with motion, why is mom up at 2AM?

Independently from your smart home system, Apple Air Tags are really neat. My mom has one as her keychain and has no idea what it really is, I did explain it to her but her short-term memory does not allow that to stick. If you do this expect to get questions and to avoid them, hide them wisely in personal effects like the lining of a coat or a purse. If they don’t see it, they can’t play with it or ask about it. Again privacy matters, friendly reminder.


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