Solutions for safety worries
“Seniors can really get in trouble because they feel like they’re losing their grip on independence,” says Susan Ayers Walker of SmartSilvers Alliance. Ayers monitors technological advances aimed at helping seniors hold on to their independence as they age. These technologies also help the children of aging parents, who worry that Mom is going to fall down the stairs, leave the stove on, or forget to take her medication if no one is around to notice.
Here’s a worry-by-worry guide to some innovations — several tested and recommended by Walker — that can make all the difference if you’re concerned about your live-alone parents’ safety or just their day-to-day ease of living.
YOUR WORRY: My parents won’t be able to reach me in an emergency.
TECH SOLUTION: Big-button cell phone. According to the Pew Research Center, many seniors won’t use a cell phone even in an emergency. They find them too complex, can’t manage the tiny buttons, or can’t read the screens. A big-button phone like the Jitterbug ($147), designed specifically for seniors, could give you and your parents peace of mind. It’s an easy-open clamshell with extra-loud speakers, big backlit buttons, a bright screen with easy-to-read numbers, and a straightforward service contract (at an additional cost). The Jitterbug One-Touch takes simplicity a step further, with just three big, impossible-to-miss buttons — one for 911; one for the operator, who will connect your parent to anyone she wants to reach; and one preprogrammed to connect your parents to you or another family member. Such phones cost $10 to $80 per month for the service plan in addition to the cost of the phone.