6 devices to keep tabs on your aging family members without invading their privacy


You may not always be able to see your grandparents, but these devices will help you know they’re safe.

Getty/John Fedele

Whether you’re spending the coronavirus outbreak sheltering in place or out and about due to essential business, you’re hopefully trying to keep a healthy distance between yourself and anyone at a higher risk of developing a serious or even fatal illness if they contract COVID-19. Since this high-risk group includes anyone over 65, a lot of us are missing regular contact with our elderly family members, and it can be scary to not know whether they’re doing okay or not.

Thankfully, in today’s age you don’t have to be physically with your grandparents to be able to keep an eye on them. I’ve rounded up six devices that will let you virtually monitor the safety and well-being of your older loved ones without compromising their independence or privacy.


If your grandparents are anything like mine, attempts to buy them cell phones always fail. iPhones have too many bells and whistles, but when you introduce them to an old flip phone they say that the buttons are too small. 

Does this problem sound familiar? Send your elderly family member a Jitterbug Flip — it’s a basic mobile phone with bigger buttons, a brighter screen and a louder speaker. It also has voice-dial capability and a magnifier with a flashlight, so it works as an all-purpose tool. If you’ve never had to use a cell phone with your grandparents because you see them so often, this is a great time to consider the Jitterbug Flip.


When your grandparent is prone to falls, it’s tough to not be able to check up on them and help whenever they need it. A security camera may seem like a good option, but do you really want to see every single thing your elderly family member does?

With the TENVIS wireless camera, you’ll only see 15-second bursts of video, triggered when the camera detects motion. It’s a single device with a 360 degree view, and it also has two-way audio for real-time communication. If you see your grandparent doing something that concerns you, you can instantly check in with them and call for help if necessary.


Maybe you’re confident in the minute-to-minute safety of your elderly loved one, but you’re still worried they’ll forget to take their medication. To make sure they’re staying on top of health management, introduce Pria into their life. It’s a smart pill dispenser that alerts your relative when it’s time to take their medication. It then verifies their identity through facial recognition or a PIN before doling out their supply.

You’ll be able to use an app that shows you when they took the medication and if they missed a dose. The device also has built in capability for two-way video calls, allowing for frequent check-ins. 

The Pria subscription is free for the first six months, then $9.99 a month after that. It’s only available in the US, but if you’re located elsewhere there are a number of other automated medication dispensers on the market.


Some elderly folks are prone to wandering, and when you’re not around to keep an eye on them this habit can get dangerous. The GhostCord Floor Mat can be placed outside your family member’s room or apartment, and will send you an alarm when it detects them attempting to leave.

The mat is cordless with beveled edges and a non-slip grip so it won’t present a falling hazard to your loved one. It’s a helpful protective measure for any grandparent with memory or awareness issues. Note that you’ll need to purchase a separate monitor.


“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” We’ve all seen those commercials for medical alert systems, but people often have the same question — what if I can’t (or don’t remember to) push the button?

The Philips Lifeline medical alert system solves this concern by detecting falls for you — there’s no button pushing necessary. It’s worn as a pendant or a wristband, and is able to distinguish between falls and regular movement. The device is also water resistant with a long-lasting battery, so you won’t have to worry about charging it. Two-way voice communication will allow the user to talk directly to the Philips Lifeline response crew and let them know if they need urgent help. 

After a one-time $50 activation fee, the system is $30 a month.


While access to your regular physician’s office may currently be limited, it’s still important to keep track of your vital signs. The iHealth Feel Wireless Monitor will keep track of your blood pressure and detect any irregular heartbeat. It sends results to your mobile device over Bluetooth, so if you’re buying one for an elderly loved one, they can keep you updated on any changes in measurements.

Monitoring your blood pressure during these stressful times is a simple way to take your health into your own hands — research shows that adults with hypertension who monitor their blood pressure at home (with or without additional support) are more likely to successfully lower their readings than those who don’t.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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