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Ask HN: How do you watch for health emergencies for elder family members?
40 points by brianjunyinchan 53 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 19 comments
How do you check their health is okay, or if there are any emergencies? Especially if they have any medical conditions?

Do you wish something better existed?

The Apple Watch is pretty good for this: * Fall detection w/ emergency sos * Heart rate detection w/ ECG prompt for Afib * Blood oxygen detection * [Apparently] Blood glucose detection

You can set up a watch with sharing [1] so you can monitor your elder family members health stats on your own device. Plus if there's anything you see that's strange, you can call them, and they can answer you on their watch.

1: https://support.apple.com/guide/watch/see-health-and-activit...

Smart thermostat in their home, polling the API for "Away" status. As they have to walk past the thermostat to get from the bedroom to the living area and kitchen, the thermostat should never switch to Away mode based on the timeout set. As someone else mentioned, Philip's Lifeline for a smooth push button emergency UX (also supports fall detection). Calls to check in and say hello (I set Siri reminders, ymmv).

Be sure to do practices with the emergency button. My grandparents had one and when my grandmother really needed it, it did not work. Turns out you need to press it and hold it down for a decent amount of time before it would activate. I'm not sure which brand it was. She hit the button multiple times, but did not know or remember that you must press and hold for a few seconds.

What if they leave the house?

I’m there if they do. They are in their 90s and do not leave their home without me, as I provide transportation and support.

If your use case is different, it’s easy to action off of door sensors, geofencing of their phone, or similar.

Good question!

If you're in the USA - Snug Safety is a great option for seniors living alone who are not ready or don't want a Life Alert necklace.

Website: https://snugsafe.com

Snug is available for Android (Google Play) and iOS (iPhone only).

Disclaimer: I currently work on Snug Safety. Please send any questions to support@snugsafety.com and we'll definitely be able to answer them.

If they use a walker, look at WalkWise (a Smart Walker Attachment). It can alert families via the mobile app if the walker doesn't move for a while, tips over, or doesn't move in the morning. While we want people to wear LifeLife or other emergency response devices, studies show they are only pressed in 20% of falls. WalkWise provides a second line of defense, passively. Plus, you can look at long-term trends or see short-term declines in activity that could be illness, infection, etc. Disclosure, I am the Founder/CEO of WalkWise (peter@walkwise.com)

My siblings and I make an effort to call every day.

This is far far better than dependence on any technological solution. With deteriorating mental faculties even the simplest of technologies can become a significant source of stress to seniors and they may not/forget to use it at critical times. Use technology as an adjunct to human touch.

Not necessarily a technology solution—more common sense than anything-but I have learned that the more complicating factors there are, the more likely it is that there will be a serious health challenge, ie. the risk of serious health issue increases. There could be a “risk” score based on a comprehensive set of factors, measured in a variety of ways (eg. sensors, surveys, etc.) to help avoid a medical emergency.

Silent Call has an alerting system that covers six unique inputs of fire, Carbon monoxide, phone ring, sound, door bell, and weather alert.

For a bedridden family member and monitoring thereof, I use the doorbell transmitter unit on the Oxygen generator alarm, the sound alert unit as the panic button for my elder that is bed-ridden. And another sound alert for the gastrointestinal feeding unit. And another for pressure plate under bed mattress (out-of-bed) indication.

While I did do many researches on medical devices and it’s output sensors, I’ve yet to find a suitable bridge unit for medical devices toward the Home Alert or Alexa unit, those are still used separately as well for “simple” outbound phone calls.

I also placed many Silent Call Medallion receiver units with flashing strobe lights , vibrators, and buzzers in strategic floors and rooms. And jerry-rigged one of the receiver unit to a Raspberry Pi unit which in turn sends SMS/Text messages to our phone over network.

For webcam, I’m forced to use cloud-solution (China) as few reliable self-hosting exist but it’s simple and has a privacy PIN. Y! Home and Wiz app were installed but rarely used because it should be compassionate human nature that you should be walking past that bedridden family member as often as you go to the bathroom, there’s no substitute for human touch.

This household is a mostly Deaf family unit hence the extra overboard for sensors and alerting. Peace of mind is immense once installed.


Disclaimer: I’m a hobbyist who tweaks PCB and repurpose them for fun. Very little commercial product for such complete setup of mine exist out there due to strict Federal regulations on medical devices, you must roll your own.

This is great; you should make a full package which people can buy as a complete solution. Start a company!

The one thing which i would really really like is to have a Computer Vision ML system which can detect changes in demeanour eg. face discoloration(lack of blood flow), droopy eyes, tremors in hands, unsteadiness on feet, greater than usual stooping etc. I am the sole caretaker for an elderly parent and am always looking out for these (and other) external markers. The key to elderly care is constant monitoring to anticipate and forestall problems.

The Amazon Echo can make outbound phone calls, and thus function as a poor man's Life Alert.

Parents insurance provided us with https://getaloecare.com and it’s fantastic. Seems to be evolving but maintains it’s absolute ease of use for my parents who are luddites and 80+

I worked on a smart home project once that supported recently disabled people towards recovery.

I know they setup a bed sensor that would report when they got out of bed each day. A simple metric for basic okay-ness.

Lifeline is the most common solution I've seen. People also install wifi cameras in their parents' bedroom/living room to check up on them.

Best scenario is have a few webcams in their house. It’s an invasion of privacy but it has an upside that can’t be beat.

All the health monitoring should hook up to PagerDuty and then my siblings and I could take shifts. (Only half joking)

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