Updated: Mar 24
Some people call it the Intention Gap.
Maybe you live away from your parents. Maybe you’re part of the juggle generation with work and kids of your own. Somehow even the best intentions don’t give us the time we need to be there. Maybe a day has passed without getting the time to call or visit, or you hang up realizing they are still on your mind.
Other than guilt, it’s hard to know where to start.
We might not have any more hours in the day than our parents had when they were raising us, but we do have possibilities they never had, and the confidence to use technology that can be overwhelming for generations before ours. There’s never been a more precious time, or reason, to harness it.
The future is already here, for keeping those we love safe, well, and independent at home.
Technology has made extraordinary new things possible. Noone can pull more time out of a hat, but it’s time to rethink our choices and the opportunities we have to make a difference to their lives when we can’t there the way we’d like to be.
What if there was a way to help check your mum’s doors were locked, that your dad’s heart is doing fine, or to get an alert to know one of them is safely in bed without having to call past?
For those of us with siblings, technology is a chance for all of us to share how we help out, check-in, and start slowly to better understand what help is required and provide it, before you know for sure there’s a problem. Like when there’s a fall for the first time.
Whether it is early memory loss, loss of confidence after a fall, or worrying about a forgotten tap or stove left unattended, we can make it easier, and get help to make these more of the best years together. Millions of our parents don’t want to go into care before their time.
This Guide tells you...
What you can get help with
Our pick of the best products to know about
Some of the Benefits
How to get outcomes
What you can get help with
The thing about getting older, or for younger people with early-onset conditions, is there are a series of steps to what those you love can progress into. There’s a beginning, then more help as you need it.
What you can get help with includes:
Being in closer touch including video, voice-activated calling, and dropping-in to a kitchen or living room with automatic face-tracking detection.
Getting reminders set by you, your family, or your parents themselves including voice announcements, shortcuts, or routines. Waking to the day, date, time, and news or reminders announced.
Getting help when you need it, either by calling out to someone, automatically detecting a fall, or locating someone who is lost - if you are worried, or they are.
Monitoring health, such as managing or preventing a problem like heart rate, ECG or blood pressure, understanding sleep or tiredness causes such as detecting sleep apnea and sharing with your Doctor, and being motivated to be active, knowing you have a window into your performance to stay in your healthy zone.
Being safe and independent at home, such as voice activating or automating appliances, lights, temperature, or sprinklers, preventing mishaps such as smoke or air quality alarms, doors or windows left opened, or being there for backup such as security cameras, (lack of) movement detection at the wrong times, or checking the camera and remotely opening the front door for the neighbor, carers or home help.
‘Growing and being happy’, such as learning, music and audiobooks; voice assistants and specialist tablets, electric trikes, ‘can’ sized projectors to watch a movie in bed or hospital, companion pets or stress, calm and relaxation.
A Quick Guide to the Best Technologies and Products
Keep reading below for the best way to get outcomes with these products, including how you make a difference by combining them to make new routines and experiences (for example, video calling in around dinner time, adding your number to the smoke alarm); and to find out how to get outcomes.
60 Top Technology Products
We independently scan thousands of technology products that help people with their lifestyle and health. (See what we do.) We’ve included these products and why we like them. A digital collection is available here, or you can subscribe and request a specialist deck, and for a limited time, and within 3 days we’ll send you a beautifully designed photo-based ‘conversation deck’ collection you can share or print to discuss with family.
Communication & Reminders
There is a range of choices, with good capabilities for vision, hearing, and communications. We’ve included examples of home phones, simplified mobile phones, smartphones, home hubs, watches, and simplified tablets.
1. Apple iPhone - Smartphone
Staying in closer touch. This is a great all rounder for calling, video, messaging, reminders, location tracking and emergency calling. You can turn on accessibility settings to help hear and read more easily, and use the voice assistant or shortcuts to ‘ask siri’ to call someone without touching the phone. Choose from a selection of carry cases and apps that suit what you value.
Tip: Have someone in the family set it up properly, with the most useful tasks and needs, get a ruggedised case or lanyard, and place stands and chargers in the kitchen, and by the bed.
2. KISA - Simplified Mobile Phone (limited features)
Safety and independence of having a mobile that’s easy to use. When your family member wants to keep in touch but finds some phones are a bit confusing to operate, this one is great for making it easy to pre-program the 10 most called numbers. It can be used at home, and out, and in care. It has a simplified design, easy to recognise faces with photo dialling, and a sos button, GPS tracking, and support for multiple languages”.
Tip: Only a limited number of numbers can be called/pre-programmed; If you like this one check your country for what’s available with a similar concept. Others include Olitech (looks like the old desktops with a mobile sim) and Southern Phone (with video).
3. Konnekt - Tabletop Video Calling (touch screen)
Feel closer with those you care about, and be able to assess more of what’s happening for someone you love. An easy to use large video phone/tabletop device with accessible buttons for checking in on how a family member is going on a bigger screen. Auto answer, and calls to regular phones.
Tip: if you like this one search out your region for what’s available with a similar concept. Provides services and sales to US & Australia.
4. SpaceTalk Life - Smartwatch, Mobile, and SOS
Increased confidence for you and for your family members for them to go out. A sleek designed watch specifically designed for seniors and those who may need assistance. Features include reminders, calling, two way emergency talk and sos button. Good for you and us to be in touch whenever we want. (They also have a children’s version).
Tip: Due to watches containing a SIM supported by specific mobile operators, check similar models in each region eg UK/EU
Help those you care for that may be legally blind and able read braille. Checking Message Every text message you receive on the smartphone is instantly translated to Braille and forwarded to your DOT Watch. When you receive a call on your smartphone, the DOT Watch vibrates and displays the name of the caller. Checking Time and Date, Alarm Clock, Timer, and Stopwatch. Beautifully designed, the DOT Watch can last 10 days with 1 charge.
6. Grandpad - Easy to use Tablet
Helps your loved one to be in closer touch with you, and their friends and family. A simplified tablet designed especially for seniors or those who find mainstream computer tablets confusing. This is a well rated and reviewed choice, with easy communication video chat and calling, email and messaging and a family community group.“
Tip: A subscription service with a fee, and with dedicated assistance and support to help you anytime.
7. Google Nest Hub Max - Home Hub & Voice Assistant (with display and camera)
A home hub that acts as both a companion, and a window of information, calling, and entertainment to the outside world keeping you informed and connected.
It’s neat and super easy to involve in your family members' day. Functions include news, music, reminders, group video calls, drop in. Especially good when placed in the kitchen or living room. Choose the Google Home mini without a camera, in the hall, bathroom or bedside table to make calls, hear reminders, or ask for help.
Tip: Leave a laminated page of example questions your loved one can ask, set it up with contacts or smart power plugs to voice control appliances, and show the family how to call into it.
8. Alexa Show Home Hub & voice assistant
Similar to the Google Home Max above. We like it for the impressive focus it’s providing seniors including those losing their memories, (“Alexa gave me my memory back”), and the new Alexa Care skills specifically for caregivers. Features for dropping in by video, reminders, routines, to detect movement, answer questions, entertain or keep your brain sharp. Choose the Alexa Dot Smart speaker & voice assistant (no display, no camera). It’s unobtrusive to have throughout the home for news, information, music, reminders, calling or combining with a smart plug to voice control lights etc.
Tip: Take care to personalise the setup, print examples of questions your loved one can ask, and show the family how to call into it.
9. Reminder Rosie - Talking Alarm Clock and Reminders
Peace of mind for the 70% or so of people who don’t remember their medication or if someone you care for doesn’t remember how to do what keeps them well - like staying hydrated, taking medication, moving about and remembering visitors, bills, events and appointments. The simplicity of this clock, with voice activated reminders and alarms, will help you stay home and independent.
10. Memrabel Talking Reminder Clock
Peace of mind to stay home and be independent for longer. A more advanced, customisable clock for a personalised set of routines, alarms and reminders including voice, video, and picture prompts to make it feel familiar to take medication, go to bed, brush your teeth with prompts to remember how to. Set by you or family remotely.
Tip: May need wifi to set reminders remotely. May need a country converter plug depending on shipping or similar products available in your region.
11. MediSafe App - App for phone or tablet Giving help to remember medication including letting family members know if medication appears to have been missed. If your family member has a smartphone, this App’s ability to remind you to take medication, confirm you’ve taken it, and alert family or caregivers if you don’t confirm. Handy features like managing prescriptions and warning about medication interactions.
Products like these two offer the ability to store medication, give reminders, and set the schedule of what to take when, to stay well.
Getting Help and Anti-Lost
There is a range of choices, and you can also refer to those above, (in Communications) that can call for help.
Choices include whether a watch, pendant, alarm or wearable.
Generally these require a SIM card from a telecommunications provider, so you can locate someone wherever they are over the mobile network. We’d suggest you use this as inspiration and then search your location region for the keywords of the products you like here to see what’s available close to you.
Features include calling one person, many or having it monitored; two-way talk; GPS location on a map; remote access of cameras; geo-fences set zones so that alerts can be triggered outside a safe zone or time period (eg 2am wandering); or the ability to detect falls or health incidents and trigger alerts automatically.
13. Apple Watch - Smartwatch
Peace of mind for calling or automatically detecting and alerting you or loved ones when help is required. One of the most advanced products in terms of communication and health, we’ve included it here for its ability to detect a fall or irregularity and alert others or call emergency services. It’s comfortable and waterproof. This product’s health features have a good success rate and has been verified by medical research. A reminder that it is not a lifesaving device, so always consult your medical professional for health information.
Tip: Likely best suited to people with a good memory and comfort with technology, either early onset conditions or a with a single concern eg. heart or falls. Make a daily routine to help charge it and wear it.
We like this product as it is consistently, highly rated by customers, is uncomplicated, and offers compatible products and devices that work well together when you’re ready to do more.
15. SureSafe - Personal SOS Alarm
Peace of mind for calling for help or alerting to emergencies. We like the features of finding someone, sending location, sensing a fall, two way communication and neck chain and bracelet accessories to keep help close. There are multiple, similar products available in various countries. SureSafe distributes in the USA, UK and Australia.
Tip: Make a plan and get one before you need it. Also consider how someone would access your loved ones home eg. smart lock or lock box if needed.
16. Tycho Real Time SOS & GPS Tracker- Personal safety watch
A good all rounder for getting help when someone you love needs it. This product has most of the popular functions in one place, including SOS alert button, voice and video calling, ability to be notified of wandering (ie. geofencing - moving outside a zone), locating loved ones and a history tracker of locations to help understand behaviour.
17. GPS Smartsole - Anti-lost Tracking sensor
Peace of mind for finding those you love that won’t remember, or don’t want to, carry a watch or personal alarm. For those managing Alzheimers or autism, this product contains a 4G sim within a pair of insoles, to help keep loved ones safe and able to locate someone or receive an alert for movement, in the event of wandering or becoming lost.
Tip: Not supported by all markets. Personal alarms and GPS locator devices are available in many forms and subscription plans. Always respect privacy.
18. Smartwatch Inspyre - Smartwatch
For detecting seizures instead of worrying you won’t know. We like this product for the specifics of detecting significant shaking, detecting abnormal behaviour, tracking heart and sending alerts and data to authorised people. When the SmartWatch Inspyre™ by Smart Monitor detects repetitive shaking motion, it signals the user’s device (iPhone or Android phone) to send text and phone call alerts to whomever the SmartWatch Inspyre™ user designates.
Within seconds, family members receive these alerts which include the date, time, location, and duration of the event. SmartWatch Inspyre™ users can also summon help with the push of a button. Alerts can be sent to any phone, anywhere, and detailed reports of each event can be securely accessed for later review with physicians.
There are a range of decisions and choices. It helps if you think about some of these including:
Know why you want it. To motivate and get fit, to share with your doctor, or understand what’s happening with your body eg. sleep and oxygen?
Medical grade or general accuracy? If you prefer a medical grade health monitoring device that has an approved specialisation such as heart, ecg or blood oxygen level
Features? Which other features are fun or important for you eg activity, sleep, heart, reminders, calling capability
Continuous or occasional testing? Do you want a wearable that tracks all the time, or a device you assess and test when needed eg. temperature, blood pressure, weight?
Practicalities. Battery life and connectivity out to a smartphone or others to share. What does the product allow you to do?
These have the benefit of monitoring health constantly, thereby offering a window into what’s happening all the time, to allow you to capture, diagnose, improve health based on insights, get alerts, share or detect incidents.
19. Apple Watch Smartwatch
A fantastic product, if you’re up for charging it and value the features. We’ve covered this in other sections for communications, tracking and fall detection. This is a popular option for managing heart, sleep, breathing, activity, and blood oxygen to name a few. It brings peace of mind to understand what’s happening, get alerts, track and share history.
Tip: Take a look at the settings, alerts and Apple health app to make the most of it.
20. Withings Pulse + Health mate App
ScanWatch is the first hybrid smartwatch to continuously scan vital parameters to detect heart health conditions and help improve overall fitness. It was developed with professionals from world-renowned institutions particularly for heart and hypoxia.
It is beautifully designed and comes with a 30 day battery life. It may help to detect health conditions and help improve overall fitness. Talk with your doctor, and see if it helps understand what’s happening between visits.
22. Oura Ring - Wearable Ring with sensors
For those who need to understand what’s happening, this is an elegant design containing sensors within the ring, and uses infrared light (photoplethysmography) to track and record skin temperature, sleep, and heart. If your loved one prefers a modern look, and a ring form, it can help you all understand what’s happening by sharing the trends with your family and health team for better care.
We like this one to get insights, especially if someone you love is tired, lacking alertness or restless and it’s having an impact on their enjoyment or health. Good sleep and oxygen levels are a basic building block for good health, and poor levels can be the root cause of other signs and symptoms. This product brings valuable graphs and data for those having problems sleeping, snoring or holding their breath and reducing oxygen levels. The silent vibration alarm in the ring alerts you immediately when low oxygen, low heart rate or high heart rate is detected. Easily press the “share” button to let your family or doctor see how you’re doing. 24. Garmin vivomove HR - Smartwatch
Motivates exercise and tracks vital information to help you and your loved one know what’s happening and stay well. Garmin has advanced sleep monitoring with REM sleep and can gauge blood oxygen saturation levels during the night with the wrist-based Pulse Ox² sensor. Fitness and health monitoring tools include wrist-based heart rate³, all-day stress tracking, relaxation breathing timer, VO2 max.
Tip: Good early-onset conditions and fitness
25. DuoEk Wearable ECG Monitor - Handheld or Wearable chest strap
This may be useful for active people with heart concern, just discharged from hospital and feeling nervous, and wanting to exercise with more confidence to see what’s happening as you do. Medically approved for assisting in the early detection of potential problems such as Arrhythmia, Heart Pause, Atrial Fibrillation (AF), Tachycardia & Bradycardia and Premature Atrial Contractions. This is not a lifesaving device, always consult your health professional, share the data and take their advice. 26. Withings Move ECG - Smartwatch
Peace of mind for those who are independent, except for the concern that something might happen with their heart. The world’s first analog watch with a built-in electrocardiogram to detect atrial fibrillation—anytime. if you feel palpitations or an irregular heart rhythm, simply press the side button and place your finger on the bezel. In 30 seconds, your medical-grade ECG is ready. You can record an ECG with or without your phone nearby—as data can be stored in the watch until the next sync. Beautifully designed analog watch, monitors heart, 12 month battery and sleep tracking.
Assessing & Testing
These products can be used by yourself, a family member or carer to test and track signs, and share with your medical professional. This may allow you to take better care of yourself, prevent or manage conditions. According to the World Health Organisation, 70% of chronic diseases are preventable. Unlike the category of wearables above, these products aren’t worn to take readings continually.
27. Kardia Heart Rate Monitor - Heart rate assessment
Keep track of heart activity for peace of mind and to contribute to a health plan or diagnosis. This product is highly reviewed and rated. We like it for the way it sticks to the back of a smartphone, and measures what your heart is doing. Record, store and share to help with doctor’s assessment or monitor or manage better outcomes.
28. DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope - Medical device
Confidence to test and measure heart activity with high accuracy and to help your medical professional understand what’s happening between appointments. We love this new product and design, a new generation of device that connects to your smartphone that helps you track and share what’s happening with your heart. Always consult a medical professional for advice.
29. Withings Sleep - Sleep mat
We like this one to get insights on how someone you love is sleeping when you can’t be there, which may explain why they are tired, unwell or unable to focus. Good sleep and breathing levels are a basic building block for good health, and poor levels can be the root cause of other signs and symptoms. Easy to place under a bed mattress and see how a family member is sleeping, we like that it’s unobtrusive, from a reputable brand. Withings Sleep offers sleep cycles analysis (deep, light and REM), heart rate tracking and snore detection and breathing disturbances.
30. AirBP Blood Pressure Monitor - Blood pressure device
Be more informed about heart activity with data. A medically accurate, approved in the USA and EU, digital blood pressure monitor that’s easily portable, and allows trends to be tracked and shared. 31. Pulsebit Ex Personal EKG Monitor - Medical and health device
A compact testing device to take a medical-grade ECG when you need to know what’s going on with the heart or health of your partner or parents. This may bring peace of mind or a more informed course of action.
A clinically proven, portable device that makes sharing results between visits with a Doctor or family, easy. We’ve included this one due to liking its colour coded, readable output helping interpret what zone your results fall in, for example Optimal, Normal, Hypertension. Always consult your health professional.
33. Withings Body Smart Scales - Smart stand on weight scales
A trusted brand, these smart scales are one of the more accurate. Capture and track weight and general health to motivate you. According to WHO, 70% of chronic diseases are preventable, including maintaining a healthy weight.
Check up on fever as an indicator of what to do. A straightforward device to take the guesswork out of fevers or symptom tracking, including COVID assessments of you, family members, or carers or residents that visit.
35. FreeLibre or One Touch or Dexcom diabetes/blood sugar levels. A range of technology devices for blood sugar testing are available, check out some here. Look out for a few continuous glucose monitors not yet on the market, such as the K-watch.
Safety and Independence at Home
Many of these products work together to make new things possible, such as being closer and monitoring those we love, making it easier to control the home, preventing mishaps or making life more enjoyable. See 7 top reasons to buy home cameras for people you love.
Peace of mind to understand what’s happening. Detect movement, or lack of movement, and get alerts or trigger an action. We like this for letting you know if there’s been movement at unusual times, and switching on lights to prevent falls or make home more secure.
37. Wi-Fi Smart Plug - Plug Adapter
This allows you to make life cosier or safer for yourself or family. Place it between the wall and any appliance, to make life easier for those you love by remotely or with your voice, turning on lights, appliances, heating etc. Super simple and effective to keep homes cosy, safe and well lit.
38. Arlo range Smart home cameras
For your family, be there when you can’t be there in person, or for yourself, be reassured that support isn’t far away. Arlo is our favourite range of cameras, including indoor and outdoor cameras, siren, spotlight and doorbell. These enable you to be notified of movement, lack of movement and set rules for different times.
Outdoor cameras can check unusual activity, such as wandering or security concerns, verify carers visiting or packages delivered. Indoor cameras can check movement or be a back up if there’s no movement or no answer when you’d expect that there normally should be.
Portable or baby monitors can be placed by the bedside if you can’t stay over when you need to, and consent is given. Accessories include solar chargers, and wireless cameras.
39. Google Outdoor Nest Cam Smart home cameras
A well rated camera from Google’s Nest brand, with a use case as per the above cameras. Works well with many products in the Google compatible ecosystem.
40. Wyze Cam - Smart home cameras
We’ve included the Wyze Cam, for its 50,000+ 4+ star ratings among consumers, international availability, and features of night vision, and strengths of pan, tilt and zoom. May be especially useful when worried about someone in the night, such as checking on falls or the room after a concern or danger is raised.
41. Lollipop - Smart cameras
The benefits of cameras to those you love have been covered earlier in this article. We’ve added the lollipop because of its flexible stem that helps you fix it anywhere and move it easily, eg. on a staircase railing, roof beam etc.
Owned by Amazon, these products can assist with use cases similar to the Arlo (above). As you start to get more help and visitors at home, products like these enhance security and help you understand what’s happening.
43. Sensor Lights - Motion detection lights Super bright sensor lights are low cost, and can be placed around the home, beds, bathrooms, stairs to detect motion and switch on, thereby bringing comfort and preventing falls. These are available on any of the marketplaces e.g. Amazon, hardware stores etc. and offer choices of battery operated, adhesive for surfaces, or plugged into power operated. 44. Home8 Smart Home Care System - Smart home independence bundle devices