Some of us are stuck indoors under shelter-in-place orders, dreaming of the world outside, whilst others are out each day fulfilling their roles as essential workers and yearning for the safety of home. Whichever is your reality, you’re for sure working to maintain social distance and particularly avoiding coming into contact with high risk or vulnerable people, keeping them safe from contracting COVID-19. In real terms, that means avoiding our parents and grandparents if they fall into the 65-plus age bracket. Not having that reassurance of seeing them so you can check they’re ok can be scary for all of us.

In our modern and connected world, we’re lucky that physical distance is no barrier to being able to keep a look for the old folks we care about. Caroline Roberts put together a list of six handy devices, for cnet where this article was originally published, to let you keep an eye on your older loved ones in this troubled time. You don’t need to worry about sacrificing their privacy or independence, we’ve already thought of that.

Keeping in touch

Jitterbug Flip cell phone

Image credit: jitterbugdirect.com

Plenty of us will have gone through the process of buying a cell phone for our grandparents only for it to be roundly ignored within weeks. iPhones get complicated, old-school flip phones can have fiddly, small buttons.  

Had the same trauma yourself? Your next attempt should be the Jitterbug Flip; a basic phone with larger-than-normal buttons, a brighter screen, and a speaker that goes all the way up to 11. It can even be set up for voice dialing as well as a magnifier feature and flashlight – lots of things older people tend to need. If you’d normally check in on your grandparents regularly so cell phones hadn’t been an issue, now would be a good time to invest in the Jitterbug Flip.


Keeping an eye out

TENVIS wireless camera

Image credit: tenvis.com

Being more accident-prone and more likely to fall down is a hazard that comes with age, and something that can be a great worry when you can’t pop in to check on someone. Your first thought might jump to a security camera, but is watching your elderly friend or relative’s every move something that either of you would want?

A TENVIS wireless camera takes a quick, 15-second recording that’s activated when there’s motion. There’s only one device and it has a 360-degree field of vision as well as a two-way communication channel to be able to chat when needed. If you see something that worries you in their home, you can do a quick check-in verbally without having to go see what’s wrong.


Keeping healthy

Pria smart medication dispenser

Image credit: techhive.com

The older people in your life might be fine a day-to-day, getting around perspective, but you can still be concerned they’re getting their medication correct. Pria is a great tool for them to use to ensure that they’re keeping on top of managing their health. It’s a pill dispenser that has alerts to remind the user to take medication at the right time. There’s facial recognition or PIN entry to make sure that only the right person takes the right pills. 

It comes with an app that you can monitor yourself so you’ll know the meds have been taken or if a dose has been missed. Two-way video calling is also enabled so you can do a quick check-in if you or they have any worries.

To start, the first six months using Pria is free, after which it reverts to $9.99 each month. For now, you can only get it in the US, but there are alternative automated medication dispensers on the market internationally.

$699 AT PRIA

Keeping track

GhostCord Floor Mat

Image credit: nationalcallsystems.com

Going for a wander can be a habit for some elderly people, particularly those with dementia, and it can be dangerous – even more so at the moment. You can get a GhostCord Floor Mat placed outside their room or apartment door and you’ll get alerted when they try to leave the place.

The edges of the mat are beveled and it has a non-slip grip so it’s not a slipping or tripping hazard, and there are no cords to get tangled in either. It can really help give you peace of mind when your grandparent or older friend has issues with memory or self-awareness. There’s a monitor that can go with the mat but you need to buy it separately.


Keeping upright

Philips Lifeline medical alert system

Image credit: webhealthline.com

We’ve all seen the ads with the elderly person who’s fallen down and is calling for help, urging us to buy medical alert systems. There’s one question that tends to put people off, “what if I’m not able to push the button, or forget it’s even there?”

When you give the Philips Lifeline medical alert system to your older loved one, these concerns are alleviated because it’ll detect a fall without any need for buttons. It can be worn as a wristband or around the neck as a pendant and is programmed to differentiate between normal movement and a sudden fall. It’s water-resistant and has a long-lasting battery so there are minimal concerns about remembering to keep it charged. As an added bonus, it can also be used for two-way communication so the user can speak with a Phillips Lifeline response crew in case urgent help needs to be called. 

There’s a one-off fee of $50 to activate the device, then a subscription of $30 per month after that.


Keeping pumping

iHealth Feel Wireless Monitor

Image credit: pinterest.com

Even though visiting the doctor isn’t top of the list of tasks, unless it’s an urgent medical need, of course, monitoring vital signs is still as important. With an iHealth Feel Wireless Monitor, your elderly relative can check up on their own blood pressure and identify if their heartbeat becomes irregular. Results are sent to a mobile device using Bluetooth so you can teach them to send the information over to you if they’re worried about understanding all the data. 

At such a stressful time, it can be useful for all of us to keep track of our blood pressure and take our health into our own hands. There’s research that’s been done that says if you’re an adult with hypertension and you monitor your blood pressure at home you’re more likely to achieve lower reading than people who don’t keep an eye on it.


Please note, this information isn’t meant as medical advice and is only for educational and informative purposes. If you have questions or concerns about your health, you should consult a physician or other medical professional.