Using technology to keep Grandma safe

Back when my grandma was in rehabilitation at a nursing facility before she settled at home for good this time, I made a list of demands. As the person primarily responsible for providing her care, I needed help from the outside to help her stay at home before I completely lost my mind.

I had two main demands:

  1. We were going to look into finding someone we could pay to spend a little time with her during the day so she had some companionship and a ride and assistance at appointments as well as help her carry out some daily tasks, like cleaning and cooking.
  2. We were going to start using technology to help me ensure her safety. At the time, I only mentioned a medical alert device like Life Alert, but in my mind, I knew that one day, I wanted to use the off-shelf technology that is quickly allowing everyday people to turn their houses into smart homes.

We got her first smart phone last summer. Even though I went in with an iPhone in mind, the T-Mobile rep sold Grandma this cheap Samsung Grand Prime phone, a cheap Galaxy knockoff because we could flip it into “easy mode.” My grandma had a lot of trouble getting used to smart phone technology, mainly the touch screen aspect of it. I knew that convincing her to technologize her life was not going to be an easy feat.


Convincing Grandma

Instead of describing the cool things she could do with all of this technology, I laid it out into a proposal for her, complete with prices and why I thought she should get the technology in question.

View the full proposal

Recently, the screen on the phone was cracked (from someone– not me– haphazardly throwing her walker in the back seat with her phone in the pocket of her old walker caddy). I used that to my advantage and took her to buy a new and better phone. We needed a better phone to implement the Nest suite. There was no using Nest in easy mode using the Grand Prime.


Getting Grandma an iPhone

I am not an Apple user myself, but I have owned an iPad for five years now. I wanted her to get an iPhone for two reasons:

  1.  Apple products are intuitive and easy to use, and
  2. As I looked around at my grandma’s friends and fellow church-goers, I noticed a lot of them owned iPhones. I started seeing visions of Grandma Facetiming with her friends and getting help from Siri.

My grandma is still learning how to use her iPhone, but I can assure you, since we switched to iOS, I have received a lot less complaints about not understanding how to use her phone.


Help! I’ve Fallen…

It took a few weeks and a couple falls where she had to crawl to the phone before she agreed to the Medical Alert, and a few months more passed before she even used the Medical Alert when she fell, despite practice and constant reminders, but we have been using it successfully for over a year now.


Making Grandma’s Home Smart

Why did we choose Nest? Well, the answer is pretty simple. I did not want to have separate apps and devices, when I could buy into one suite of apps and equipment. Sure, I’ve heard good things about the Ring Video Doorbell and the Peep Smart Doorbell, but viewing and managing the cameras  and thermostat in one place was the major factor in deciding on Nest. We ordered them all at once, and I installed them one-by-one over the following weeks.


Follow along with me in future posts for the specific insights on selecting a medical alert system and installing the Nest thermostat, outdoor and inside cameras.