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Smartphone Apps for 'Aging in Place'

A roundup of helpful apps for caregivers and seniors living independently

En Español | "Independent living," "nonassisted living" or "aging in place" more or less mean the same thing: staying in your own home as long as you're able, as opposed to moving to a health care environment. Today, high-tech monitoring systems and other gadgets are helping seniors age in place, independently and comfortably, while giving their family greater peace of mind.

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A growing number of downloadable software applications ("apps") are available for use with smartphones and tablets. These apps can be used by those who are living independently or by caregivers as a means to remotely keep in touch, monitor and, if need be, assist those who need you.

A woman outside, holding an iPad on her lap while showing house security camera images

Apps for iOS devices, such as the iPad, can help you keep track of loved ones. — CJG-Technology/Alamy

Here are a few apps to consider. Most of these are for use with the Apple iOS family of devices — namely, iPad, iPhone or iPod touch — but some of these (where indicated) are available for other platforms, too.

iCam

If a loved one has a computer with a webcam, the iCam app ($4.99; for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch) allows you to monitor multiple live video feeds over Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity. With the person's consent, you can check in, visually, to ensure he or she is doing well. You can also record and play back events, if need be, and set up the app to notify you when motion is detected (the free iCamSource PC or Mac software is required). For instance, you might place a webcam by the medicine cabinet or fridge (or both) so you'll know when a loved one is taking his or her pills or eating a meal. On a related note, free video chatting apps such as Skype and FaceTime are also a great way to keep in touch.

Tell My Geo

Iconosys's Tell My Geo is a smartphone application that can find or track, for instance, an Alzheimer's patient. The cared-for's smartphone can be set to send regular location updates (using GPS technology) to a loved one's smartphone. Plus, the app has large emergency buttons to press, such as "Where Am I?" "Send Location" and "Call For Help." This app (available in English or Spanish for Android devices) is free to download, but costs $9.95 per month for the monitoring. Registered users are mailed adhesive decals to place on the phone with information for emergency medical professionals. Tell My Geo also contains medical information, sort of like a digital med-alert bracelet, including medical conditions, allergies, blood type, and doctor and emergency contact info.

SwannView

If your loved one doesn't have a computer webcam, a more robust video monitoring solution — that works on virtually any smartphone or tablet — is SwannView, a free download that works with Swann Security's all-in-one kit (model number DVR4-2600; $449). This package includes four color cameras (Swann's PRO-580 model; each with 480 lines of resolution) and a 500-gigabyte digital video recorder (DVR) to record up to 30 days of video from all four cameras, simultaneously. SwannView works over Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity – on a BlackBerry, iPhone, Android, Windows or Symbian device – so you can remotely log in to see a live, real-time view. These mountable all-weather cameras also have an infrared LED night vision feature that can see up to 65 feet in the dark. Similar to the above mentioned iCamSource software, you can also set up this kit to send you an email if the cameras detect motion.

Next: Simple-to-use software and a glimpse into the future. >>

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