Reply to post: The Wonderful Internet

Be your own Big Brother: Keeping an eye on Mum and Dad

Richard Jones 1
Big Brother

The Wonderful Internet

There is no subject that cannot attract the mindless rambling of a troll.

The subject is serious, the intent is serious and the requirement is obvious. I was fortunate in that my mother did not reach vascular dementia until she was in her late 80's and still had father there to deal with her. That was until it all became too much for him and her condition became too impossible to handle Telephone calls morning and night helped him for a while but as he was in his late eighties by then, a home for mother became the only answer. By that time Mother was barely able to walk and the strain of it had caused father's health to suffer. She died at 93 and father who was a little younger lasted another 18 months. My options were limited by living well over 200 miles away and having two disabled children to sort out and support. Operating at a much lower level I tried to think of ways to use technology to help but many of the issues raised in the article and in the links are very familiar. One of the greatest issues is wandering, itself an off shoot of memory failings and a sense of not belonging, even if it was their home of 50 years. On one occasion on seeing policemen Mother 'chased out of the house' to report her parents were missing. They had died 20~30 years before, no technology is going to help much with that situation. Once mother went into a home where she needed 24 hour support - none of which was paid for my any aspect of NHS, father was alone. For a while he still drove I am not sure how well, but a couple of falls meant that he had to go into care. I am not sure how much help technology could have provided for him either.

To be effective it would need to be built in with sensors that function as part of the furniture - though as the mental aspects of dementia take hold even furniture can be a target for movement if not outright abuse.

In short any and all technology would need to be in place well before it is needed and even then might be of use for only a few years perhaps 1~5 years at best.

The value of any technology can only be assessed once it is in use and by then if it achieves nothing it is too late to 'un-spend' the time and effort. In any case a one size fits all old people situation is never going to be of value. In cases like this, one cannot have too much choice of methods or too much guidance as to how to assess the needs.

The assessment problem is a vital one, unless you specialise in the subject, (from experience no one does!) you will not understand where problems might be eased, only with that data can one start to assess what, if anything might help. However, I suspect that while it might help for a short time and it does depend on each individual, once the skids of decay have been greased there is no real way to stop the downhill progression. The one real benefit is that it can ease the feelings of isolation and, prevent the issue of a faller remaining undiscovered for too long. However, that is an issue for more than the old and lonely.

One other monitor that might be valuable is one that checks such things as the vacuum cleaner, or items needed for personal hygiene since cleaning in various forms can be an issue.

For all that, I end up wondering if this is not just another example of trying to find a home for homeless technology where actually people would do it better?

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019