The Pendant Dilemma

I remember the fight I had with my dad a few weeks into his treatment for cancer. The chemo and radiation were going to obviously take a toll on him and I wanted him to wear an alert pendant.

I was a concerned son looking for “just in case” insurance.

To put it mildly, that discussion went nowhere quickly.

As a proud 70+ guy, agreeing to wear a pendant was a form of giving up and to my dad it signaled “the end” could be just a step or two away. He wanted no part of it.

He won but my sanity suffered. Unless I called, texted or dropped by, I had absolutely no idea how he was doing, let alone if he had fainted or fallen. It drove me crazy and led me to launch Caregiver Smart Solutions and our Peace of Mind Sensor system.

Since launching the company a year ago, we have spoken to hundreds and hundreds of aging adults and their children. The discussion is usually the same. Mom or Dad wants to remain independent and their kids are stressed out not knowing how their parents are doing.

And then the discussion will immediately go to the alert pendant which many simply call, “the button.”

In a previous post I shared the story of an older woman who walked into a restaurant wearing an alert pendant. She sat down and immediately took the pendant off and put it in her purse where she later admitted it would likely stay for most of the day.

That story was just another reason why I knew we were headed down the right path. We shouldn’t have to rely on our loved ones to do anything for us to know they are OK.

Our system follows that manta. There is nothing for them to charge, wear or do. We place a variety of sensor throughout our loved one’s home that feeds data to an app on their adult children’s phone. The information serves as a “check in” – a modern day version of a phone call, text or visit – to make sure everything is OK. And, if something is amiss the children will know early as the system identifies changes in sleeping, eating, mobility habits and even frequency of bathroom visits. Of course, we have a proactive fall detection that reduces the time between an “event” and contact.

But we are very different from pendants. And, according to a recent Washington Post article, that is a good thing.

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I was shocked to see the how poorly the mass market pendants seem to work. The Washington Post’s Consumers’ Checkbook tested 11 devices and found “disturbing deficiencies.”

The article cited false alarms, inability to connect, trouble for the monitoring service “tracking” where the unit was located, and other concerns.

As a tech guy I was completely dismayed to read this. After all, the industry has had since 1989 when we first saw that “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial to get it right.

I understand technology isn’t foolproof and we can’t solve for everything. And I would never discourage someone from utilizing a pendant. But its 2019 and I am convinced the meetup of technology and the challenges created by the booming Aging in Place phenomenon should be so much further ahead.

I think we are.

Let me know what you think at

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