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'I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!' v2.0 155

theodp writes "Remember those old Lifecall commercials? Well, you've come a long way, Grandma! The NY Times reports on a raft of new technology that's making it possible for adult children to remotely monitor to a stunningly precise degree the daily movements and habits of their aging parents. The purpose is to provide enough supervision to allow elderly people to stay in their homes rather than move to an assisted-living facility or nursing home. Systems like GrandCare, BeClose, QuietCare, and MedMinder allow families to keep tabs on Mom and Dad's whereabouts, and make sure they take their meds. Perhaps Zynga can make a game out of all this — GeriatricVille?"
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'I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!' v2.0

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  • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:37PM (#33098354)

    If I had alzheimers to the point where I was wandering off into the woods somewhere, unable to get home, I don't think I'd like to be "rescued" with a GPS device. My own grandfather (alzheimers) tried to commit suicide at least once by sitting in his car in his garage with the engine turned on. He was found and "rescued". He lived to a somewhat older age, with all the dignity of a crazy old man, not knowing who most of his relatives were, shitting his pants, etc. I hope my relatives don't keep me around against my will as a still technically living reminder of the person I once was.

    As the usual proportion of baby boomers start to become demented, I hope we will see some more realism about what dementia is. There will be a lot of demented people and the associated problems will become commonly experienced. Car accidents for one. It's not going to be pretty.

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @07:39PM (#33098372) Homepage
    The first three groups of people in any society who always give up their rights before anyone else:
    1. Children and the elderly, because they cannot speak for themselves;
    2. Prisoners, because they have forfeited their rights by harming the rest of us; and
    3. Military, because they voluntarily relinquish their rights in order to serve the rest of us.

    You're kidding yourself if you think wearing one of these won't be mandatory to qualify for a life insurance policy in 10 years. Without life insurance, you can't get a job, without a job, you can't get a citizen number, without a citizen number, you can't buy food from state-owned stores (because food distribution is too important to be left in the hands of crazed free market advocates). Fill in the blanks with snippets from the dystopian sci-fi writer of your choice.

  • by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @08:07PM (#33098508) Journal

    It's been during the transitional phase that parents have had the chance to spend a decent amount of quality time with their kids. For traditionally the kids went from live-in nanny to boarding school. Today the parents must both work.

    But I enjoyed that in-between where my mother could stay at home but not afford a live-in nanny. Though my grandmother did live with us, her role was more in house care. We also had a regular gardener and cleaner. I miss the gardener. He kept ducks and taught me about fish care. He had a son with learning difficulties and my family hired him too. And this is just enough backstory for a Radio 4 play.

  • by Jedi Alec ( 258881 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @08:14PM (#33098552)

    Let me take a wild guess, you're sufficiently afraid of the medical establishment to have avoided contact with them for an extended amount of time?

    Because that is one serious case of paranoia you got going on there...

  • by Penguinshit ( 591885 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @08:38PM (#33098654) Homepage Journal
    I have ALS and requested the baby monitor system. I also use various IM clients on my optical tracking computer system to communicate with friends and family. The IM has saved my life more than once when the in-home monitor failed for whatever reason. I am on a ventilator so communication failures can turn lethal quickly.
  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @09:47PM (#33098908)

    High cost $8,000 install , $75 /M.

  • Re:great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:01PM (#33099124) Journal

    You might also remember most were not middle class, most were poor.

    Sorry, I was referring to the US, not the UK.

    We used to have a very large middle class here in the US, thanks to labor unions. It's not so much any more since Reagan, and the ruling corporations realized they couldn't have a middle class with choices if they were going to maximize quarterly profits.

  • I'll just warn you (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:36PM (#33099248)

    You'd better be nice to your kids, and foster a good relationship. You might think such a thing in mandatory on their part but let me assure you it is not. When they turn 18 (and at any time after) they can sever any and all ties with you. You have no legal claim to force them to care for you. If they want to leave you to fend for yourself, they can.

    I warn this, because I've known more than a couple students that have come through (I work at a university) who's parents seem to assume they should have to pay their own way, take care of themselves, etc, etc, yet still think the kid owes them. The attitude of such students is often as not "Fuck you." They don't have a particularly good relationship with their parents and being told to go out on their own makes it less so. Heck one of my coworkers (who is 40) says 3000 miles is about the right distance to be away from his parents.

    So just something to consider. If you want your kids to be your caregivers, help them out, treat them well, make sure you give them whatever you can. That doesn't guarantee they'll help you, but it gives you a lot better chance. Either way though, I'd save some money and have a backup plan. Their option to tell you to get bent always exists.

  • Re:great (Score:4, Interesting)

    by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Saturday July 31, 2010 @11:55PM (#33099322)

    "The alternative is an archaic system of elder care called "families". I understand it was practiced in some parts of the world back in the 20th century"

    Elder care is utterly consuming and exhausting. Been there, done that. It is not a one person job, but monitoring tech can help monitor other caregivers (I used cams for this) as well as the oldster in question. The extreme demands of elder care can exhaust even fit, dedicated, informed, and intelligent caregiving relatives.

    Modern medical technology ensures years of madness, incontinence, and incontinent madness await most of us. We WILL be a burden on all who care for us (even love doesn't make it not a burden), and should know that long before we turn to shit. There is no heroism in merely living as long as possible, just giving in to fear. Hunter Thompson and Ernest Hemingway were wise to check out before what made them men was taken from them.

    Warren Zevon chose differently, and left us this to think about: []

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @12:07AM (#33099362)

    "It is arrogant and irresponsible to project your own motives and emotions into the mind of someone with a senile dementia."

    Senile dementia is so mentally destructive that interfering with an apparent suicide attempt is extremely cruel. I watched both my parents eventually succumb, and if I'd walked in on either doing "suicide by car" I'd have walked out and shut the door. THAT would have been kindness.

    May everyone who wants to prolong the life of the demented, become demented themselves. It takes a while, so you can know the bitter frustration of losing your faculties bit by bit by bit...

  • Re:great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomlord ( 38815 ) <slashdot AT krwtech DOT com> on Sunday August 01, 2010 @02:21AM (#33099716) Journal

    I'd love to take care of my mom all day, but if I did, I'd have to move into her tiny house (because I'd lose my house, which she can't get around in because of all the stairs), and YOU'D be paying for me to eat and go to the doctor, because I would have no income. Now, if we had universal healthcare, reasonably priced education (I'll probably be paying for college forever), and any ability to recover after losing jobs and our credit ratings getting screwed (which, ironically, hurts when looking for a good job, which would allow us to fix things), then our families might have the ability to care for our elderly again.

    I DO take care of a disabled parent and have for 12 years, almost entirely by myself. I've been in the position of being unemployed for the last 4 years - you think it's hard getting a job right now, try getting a job that allows you to take a physically disabled parent to work with you since working is pointless unless you can make more, after taxes, than it costs to send the parent to adult daycare ($60+ per day (meaning you need to make at least $90, or about $12/hr just to break even or $20/hr to earn minimum wage after expenses)) or a home health aide ($24/hr through the agency that came for my dad when he first came home, which is even more expensive than the daycare option). I live with him in the same house I grew up in - his bedroom and the bathroom are on the first floor. We get by on his modest retirement income of about $25k per year, and yeah, that included paying a mortgage for 11 of the last 12 years (we paid off the house last year). His medical bills have become rather substantial since he's developed diabetes and various other complications after his brain aneurysm/stroke that rendered him immobile on his left side, and thus, largely non-ambulatory... but we get by.

    As for me, I dropped my private health insurance 5 years ago. After 6 years, my premiums had gone from $200/month to nearly $500/month, largely because of new mandates required by the state insurance board. The likelihood of me needing expensive care at the age of 28 is pretty slim, not worth $6000 annually to me (and that wasn't the cadillac plan, I had high co-pays and whatnot). I'd love to buy catastrophic coverage, but my state won't let me and the federal government won't let me buy across state lines. Over the past 5 years, I've saved somewhere between $35-40k on premiums while my medical expenses amounted to $115, $515 or so if you want to include my glasses and contacts. I qualify for most of the welfare slate, including medical, but I refuse to take it because I believe that, on principle, it is theft for me to do so. I put up with some minor issues like tendonitis in my elbow and bone spurs in my feet, choosing to treat myself rather than go for surgery since it isn't necessary at this point (and I will pay for it when it is) and, in the case of my heels, because I can't be off my feet for weeks to heal post-surgery.

    Most of his family shares the modern day American value of "me, me, me" and they do nothing to help. The vast majority of his family doesn't even call to check to see how he's doing. Why should they put themselves out in any manner to help a family member? While pretty shitty of them, it isn't their responsibility to care for him. Likewise, it is even less the responsibility of you or some other slashdotter, since you aren't even related to him. The government sees absolutely no value in him - he'll be a net loss for the rest of his life, thus, if they were in control, they have every reason to let him die early to save money. That goes likewise for the insurance companies if he wasn't on Medicare (hey, unlike me, he paid a lifetime of premiums). His family may like the idea of the someone taking care of him, so they don't have to feel guilty for not doing it, but that doesn't make government the moral choice. Too many people say "hey, I paid my taxes, so why should I have to give to charity on top of that?," which is the danger of government "promi

  • Re:great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Sunday August 01, 2010 @03:12AM (#33099848) Homepage

    I liked the idea that the operators of a nursing home in Germany had, where they put a fake bus stop at the end of the road. They looked after a lot of Alzheimer's patients, who would wander off and try to make their way home. Of course, they'd get as far as the bus stop, and wait for a bus - so if you noticed someone was missing you knew the first place to look.

    It's a bigger problem than people realise. I used to work near a nursing home, where one of my minion's grandmother stayed. About once a week she'd wander off and walk the six or seven miles back to her old house, assuming that minion or I didn't notice and set off in the car to retrieve her. The nursing home never learned from the experience.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Sunday August 01, 2010 @09:06PM (#33105776) Journal

    In the 20th century, which you remember so fondly, it was a woman's job to be a mother and housewife.

    Not always. My mom worked in a munitions plant during WWII and after the war had a career working full-time. But since I lived in an extended family, and my grandparents lived in the same big house (actually a 2-flat in Chicago) there was no need for day care. So "elder care" and "child care" are both taken care of just by having a family that stuck together.

    Not far from the house I live in now, there's a condo building that's full of singles. Who's going to take care of these people when they get old, when their tattoos are faded and saggy and when their hipster goatees are gray and there's no more money for cosmetic surgery?

    I wouldn't trade my experience growing up in a loving, extended family for anything. And it was made possible by labor unions, which the "family values" crowd seems to hate.

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