Making sure mum is OK when we’re 7,000 miles apart

Trying to look after an elderly parent can be difficult at the best of times, even if they live close by. But when you’re nearly 7,000 miles apart, keeping an eye on mum or dad can be especially hard.

That’s the reality, however, for Julie, who for much of the year lives in Singapore – the other side of the world from her 84-year-old mum Joyce whose home is in Oldham in Greater Manchester.

Joyce has lived alone since the death of her husband two years ago. Although in good health, her nearest relative, granddaughter Kate, lives 25 miles away in Alderley Edge, Cheshire.

Julie puts in daily phone calls to her mum to check she’s OK – whether she’s abroad, at her other home in London or visiting her daughter and grandchildren in Cheshire.

But since the summer she has had a little extra help in the form of the 3rings smartplug – a device created to help people check their elderly relatives are safe and well every day.

The device is connected to Julie’s mum’s kettle, and uses mobile technology to send Julie a ‘peace of mind message’ to her phone each morning telling her that her mum is up and about and has made a hot drink.

Julie says: “By 10am if mum has got up and made a cup of tea, as she does every day, a reassuring message pings on my mobile telling me all’s well. If she hasn’t made a drink by 10am I would get an alert which tells me something might be wrong as the kettle hasn’t been used. It’s an additional reassurance each morning that mum is OK – although because of the time difference between the UK and Singapore, it’s early evening in the Far East when I get the alert!”

Julie bought the 3rings smartplug, and a subscription to use the service, in the summer – and so far the family have had no ‘red alerts’ only daily ‘peace of mind messages’.

Julie adds: “We are very lucky that mum is in good health at the moment. She is independent and is easily able to look after herself without any outside help. But that doesn’t mean we don’t worry about her, and every day I make sure I check how she’s doing. The fact that for much of the year I am thousands of miles away means that isn’t always easy – even though mum is only a phone call away.

“The 3rings Plug has really helped take some of the worry away and gives us extra peace of mind. It’s by no means a replacement for making personal contact – but a really helpful addition to what we are doing already.”

Julie says they are lucky that her mum’s neighbours also keep an eye out, and can be called upon to pop round in the event of a ‘red alert’.

Julie adds: “I’m an only child so have no brothers and sisters to call on for help. Thankfully when we are not in the UK, we know we could ask neighbours to drop round if something happened. And my daughter is also not too far away and visits her grandma regularly. Between us, at the moment anyway, we feel we’ve got things covered given mum’s good health and the fact she can look after herself. With the 3rings smartplug we’ve now got a simple but effective way of knowing every day that mum is up and about and safe and well. It’s such a nice feeling to hear that ‘ping’ on my phone every day – and I feel much closer to home.”

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