Smart home technology can bring to mind cool gadgets, voice command lighting, heated toilets and what the “home of the future” might look like.
It can also be a lifesaver for the elderly, while giving peace of mind to their loved ones.
That’s what Allison Dean Love learned after her 82-year-old mother, Amelia Dean, was discovered face down on the floor of her 1948 ranch-style house located off Nashville Highway. The incident happened Nov. 11 last year, and Love was 500 miles away in South Carolina.
“She didn’t answer the phone. So long story short, we ended up on the phone with my aunt and she was worried,” Love said. “It turned out she had been on the floor for several hours, most likely six hours at that point, dehydrated and confused, almost like she’d had a stroke.”
In March, Dean suffered another episode. This time, she was discovered sitting in a chair in the living room. She was dehydrated, and medics estimated she had been that way for about an hour and 45 minutes.
Dean has lived in her house for 35 years, but isn’t ready to leave anytime soon. So the family looked at options for making sure there is a plan in case this were to happen again. Love now keeps track of her mother’s movements through special sensors installed by Nashville startup company HoneyCo Homes.
“I can check the system first thing in the morning and before bed every night,” Love said. “I wish I had known about it a long time ago. Now we’ve got it, and it certainly does help me … because I can’t be there all the time.”
When it comes to smart home technology, HoneyCo puts its focus on elderly care and making the devices almost unnoticeable, while allowing residents continue maintaining a level of independence. For more information, visit www.honeyco.com.
In Dean’s house, there are motion sensors in most of the rooms. A “nucleus” device, which looks like an iPad, is located next to a chair in the living room and allows Love to videochat with her mother. They are also testing a new bed sensor, which can detect if Dean doesn’t come back to bed after getting up in the middle of the night.
“It’s the peace of mind, being able to know that my mother is okay and moving around,” Love said. “It’s a less intrusive way of keeping up with her without having video cameras all over the place. It shows that she’s moving around from room to room, and if she’s moving then she’s okay.”
The cost for the HoneyCo system ranges from $150 monthly for the basic package to $350 per month. New devices can sometimes be tested without any additional charges, Love said. Users can track movements throughout the house on an app, which can be downloaded on any mobile device.
Dean said she enjoys her privacy and independence and didn’t want to have a lot of cameras watching her 24/7. Having motion sensors didn’t take much getting used to because she had grown accustomed to the motion sensor located on a pine tree along the driveway.
“I was addicted to that sensor, and once you get used to it, you worry when you don’t have it,” Dean said. “I didn’t have any trouble getting used to these at all.”