If you just want a simple check to make sure your mom is OK every day, consider signing her up with a daily check-in call service program. These are telephone reassurance programs run by police or sheriff’s departments in hundreds of counties across the country and are usually provided free of charge.
A computer automated phone system would call your mom at a designated time each day to check-in. If she answers, the system would assume everything is OK. If she didn’t pick up or if the call goes to voicemail after repeated tries, you (or her other designee) would get a notification call. If you are not reachable, calls are then made to backup people who’ve also agreed to check on your mom if necessary.
The fallback is if no one can be reached, the police or other emergency services personnel will be dispatched to her home.
To find out if this service is available in your mom’s community, call her local police department’s nonemergency number. If it’s not offered, there are other organizations or companies you can turn to that provide similar services.
One that I love that’s completely free to use is Mon Ami (monami.io, 650-267-2474), which offers a volunteer phone bank that provides phone or video calls daily, weekly or anything in between. The volunteer will connect with your mom, provide companionship and make sure everything is OK. They’ll let you know if they detect a problem.
Technology offers a variety of new ways to help you keep an eye on your mom when you can’t be there.
One nifty new option is the Electronic Caregiver’s (electroniccaregiver.com) “Premier” product, which is a wearable wrist device that provides activity monitoring, a 24/7 emergency help button, medication reminders and a GPS locator so you can determine your mom’s whereabouts when she’s away from home.
It’s also linked to a family caregiver app to keep you and other loved ones in the loop. The device is free with a subscription that costs $40 to $60 a month, depending on the level of monitoring.
If your mom is primarily homebound, another option to consider is a sensor-monitoring system like Caregiver Smart Solutions (caregiversmartsolutions.com). This uses small sensors (not cameras) placed in key areas of your mom’s home to track her activities — everything from whether she used the coffee pot to how much she’s watching TV — and will let you know if something out of the ordinary is happening. For instance, if she went to the bathroom and didn’t leave, it could indicate a fall or other emergency.
You can also check up on her patterns through the system’s website or app. For additional protection, it offers emergency call buttons that can be placed around the house. Caregiver Smart Solutions starts at $99 for their activity sensors, plus a $29 monthly service fee.