Helping dad stay independent with technology

It is two years since 85-year-old Arthur was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s – and one thing he certainly isn’t short of is people worrying about him.

All four of Arthur’s children live within a few miles of his home in Prestwich in North Manchester. And if they’re not popping round to check on him, they’re calling to ask if he’s OK.

“Myself and my two brothers and sister are thankfully all close by, which certainly makes things easier,” says Arthur’s 45-year-old daughter Lesley. “But we all have to go out to work in the day so it’s not possible for us to get round sometimes until the evening to see him.

“After mum died two years ago and dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, it got to the point where we were each ringing him several times a day. In all honesty, it was starting to annoy him. He’d sometimes not pick up the phone, or switch it off, or when he did answer he’d tell us to stop ringing him all the time! It got to be a bit of a problem. We wanted to call to check he was OK but in doing so we were irritating him!”

Help was at hand when Lesley heard about the 3rings smart plug, a new device that helps people keep an eye out for their elderly relatives who live independently.

The device is plugged into Arthur’s kettle in his kitchen and lets each of his children know in the morning when he gets up to make a drink – via a ‘peace of mind message’ sent to their mobile phone. Most days at 10.30am the family gets a reassuring message to tell them he’s put the kettle on. If not, they get a ‘red alert’ telling them he hasn’t used the kettle yet and there could be a problem.

“We’ve only had the red alert once,” adds Lesley. “On Mondays and Tuesdays he goes to a local coffee morning and one day he overslept so he left the house without making a drink at home. We got the alert and thankfully my niece was able to pop round and check on him. She found him at the coffee morning having quite a nice time and wondering what all the fuss was about. But we were of course glad to know he was OK. It was a false alarm but it shows the device really works.”

For Lesley and her family the 3rings plug is easing some of their anxiety around their dad and his condition.

“We all have to go out to work and we just don’t have time to get round to see dad before we set off. I’m sure it’s a familiar story for a lot of people. So if something did happen to dad in the morning it could be evening before we found out. With the 3rings smartplug we get to know if there could be a problem and one of us will pop by.

“It just helps you sleep at night knowing that even though you can’t be with them in the morning there’s something in place which can tell you whether they are OK or not. As soon as I know dad is up and has made a drink I can relax a bit more and get on with work. You never completely stop worrying, but it does make it a bit easier.

“At least one of us still goes to see dad every day, so it’s not about replacing face to face contact with him. It’s a difficult time at the moment, but with this clever plug as an added reassurance, we feel like we’ve got some extra help available to us.”

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