NewswireToday - /newswire/ -
Reston, VA, United States, 2012/02/10 - Eldercare expert Bart Astor, author of the "Baby Boomer's Guide to Caring for Aging Parents" tests the Sonamba, a unique home monitoring system for caregivers, reviews its features, and gives his full endorsement to the product.
For several weeks author and eldercare expert Bart Astor tested a new device called the Sonamba, a unique home monitoring system for caregivers. The system, built by Pomdevices, is designed to keep seniors safe at home by keeping track of their daily activity, medication routines and appointments. “At first glance I’d say that the system is everything it’s cracked up to be,” says Astor. As a boomer who went through the whole eldercare process with both his parents and inlaws, and as the author of the Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents, he says “I wish this system was available years ago. If your parents are living independently I encourage you to investigate whether Sonamba is right for you.”
Pomdevices calls the Sonamba a Wellbeing Monitoring System for seniors living independently. Any unit claiming to be used for this purpose must be multi-purpose, and indeed, Sonamba is just that, according to Astor. At its basic level, it serves as a Personal Emergency Response system, complete with panic button that upon activation alerts caregivers and 911 via cellular connectivity. The button can be worn around the neck or on the wrist. It can also be mounted on a wall if appropriate. Multiple units that are all coordinated can be placed in different rooms for those seniors who have greater mobility and often move around their house.
“But Sonamba is much more than an emergency response system and, in fact, is a device that many of our parents can use.” It serves as a medication and appointment reminder that the senior or the caregiver can easily program directly on the unit or remotely by computer. These reminders can include the specifics about upcoming appointments and which medications need to be taken and when. As an electronic reminder it can replace all those notebooks, calendars, and lists so many of our parents have. In his testing he programmed in a few appointments and different prescription medicines, some to be taken just once a day, others multiple times. And each med was to be taken at different hours. As each designated hour came, the unit alerted him with a “ding” that was sufficiently loud and distinct to hear it in another room. He said he was even able to hear it on another floor of his townhouse. The face of the unit shows the reminder on screen and lists which medication needs to be taken, as well as how many pills if that information is entered. The alert chimed every minute if he did not take the medication (or rather, if he did not clear the alert), and after repeated alerts, the caregiver would be notified, prompting a follow up. Since caregivers can check in on the unit remotely, caregivers can also know when doctor appointments are scheduled and when medicine regimens change. One suggestion he had for the manufacturer was to provide a flashing light, not just a sound and a screen display. Many seniors are hard of hearing so a distinctive and highly visual cue is important. The manufacturer is looking at ways to include that functionality in their next version.
There are other features of the Sonamba which Astor feels are quite important, some of which are unique to this system. The system periodically sends status alerts to caregivers telling them whether all is well or that the built-in sensor noted unusual levels of activity in the coverage area. This level is based on how much activity existed during a learning period of approximately one week. “When I went out I simply pressed the ‘Away’ button so the unit knew not to expect any activity. And when I returned I pressed the ‘Home’ button to restart the monitoring. “
The unit is extremely user-friendly and allows the user can type brief messages to the caregivers designated in the system. The unit has a touchscreen interface that works well using either your fingers or a separate stylus.
Physically, the unit looks very much like a desktop electronic photo frame and indeed, when the system is not operating as a monitor it shows a rotating photo album. Astor said that he easily uploaded several of his personal pictures so having the unit on a table was a nice addition to the room.
As PomDevices says, the Sonamba is “designed to be a part of everyday living — empowering seniors as well as their caregivers to live life on their own terms.” Astor says,“I can easily see this device in our parents’ homes, allowing us as caregivers to know that meds are being taken correctly and that in an emergency we — and the paramedics — will be notified.”
Bart Astor (BartAstor.com) is a recognized expert in eldercare. His best-selling book,"Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents" is now in its second printing and is available electronically on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. He has appeared on numerous TV and radio shows, including ABC’s “Good Morning America” and PBS’s “MarketPlace.”