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BeClose Launches New Wireless Home Monitoring System for Aging-in-Place Seniors

BeClose, the new wireless home monitoring system that connects caregivers to care receivers through BeClose.com, announced the commercial launch of their aging-in-place product today during the National Council on Aging and the American Society on Aging's week-long conference in Chicago. The setting was the largest gathering of a diverse, multidisciplinary community of professionals from the fields of aging, healthcare and education.

BeClose works as unobtrusive, wireless sensors placed throughout the home transmit information to BeClose.com, where caregivers can log in to monitor daily activities. The real time information can also be sent to hand-held devices for mobile alerts and the ability to monitor from anywhere.

"BeClose allows aging family members to stay in their homes when they feel strongly about maintaining their independence," said Liddy Manson, the Company's president. "Most often the Caregivers are immediate family members, and the Caregivers that we talked to during our product testing phase want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their loved ones are going through their daily routines successfully. They want this knowledge without constantly intruding on their privacy or calling all the time."

Dr. Mark Hanson, who leads the company's Product Development efforts, is one of the country's leading experts on wireless health and a frequent speaker on the subject of geriatric technology. He added, "unlike cumbersome pendants that rely on the elderly to activate them if something happens, the wireless sensors of BeClose provide hands free, continual information about activity in the home -- staying in bed, using the bathroom, doors and windows or other personalized activities you choose to monitor." The sensors then alert caregivers to unusual activity patterns and send real-time information to computers and mobile devices. Dr. Hanson emphasized the importance of watching these overall aging trends and possible signs for intervention rather than waiting for a fall or major health event.

The BeClose system has already been piloted with a study group of seniors in various parts of the U.S. and Canada that included Manson's 80-year-old mother who lives alone in Boston.

A recent report released by AARP (2010) and the National Alliance for Care Giving reported that 30% of Americans are caregivers, spending about 19 hours a week providing care for an elderly parent or a loved one. In addition, the fastest growing segment of the population, now at 40 million, is the group of individuals, aged 65 and over. And with the recent financial crisis and recession, much of the elderly population plan to stay in their homes longer, making 'aging in place' a major trend that is creating high demand for solutions to meet the needs of this segment. The BeClose system was designed to fill the demand for caregivers who are not able to check on aging family members, but are concerned about their safety and well being.

About BeClose
The company is privately funded and a technology partner with alarm.com. By leveraging the patented alarm.com technology platform, BeClose can scale usage on a proven system that processes more than 25 Million security and safety events every month. BeClose headquarters are outside of Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.beclose.com



Read more: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/beclose-launches-new-wireless-monitoring-home-system-for-aging-in-place-seniors,1212020.shtml#ixzz0ig1oNmnD

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Comments

Has anyone done an independent third-party review of the new wireless home monitoring system from BeClose? I understand it's a new product, so I'd like to know how well it actually works in service.

thanks,

Keith

I see no one responded to my question, so I'll try to answer it myself...

I ended up ordering the BeClose package for a 'larger home' and am testing it out in my house before installing it in my mother's house. Based on about 72 hours of experience with it, I have the following observations:

- Easy to deploy. The Quick Start guide is straightforward, and the base station and sensors easily network themselves without having to program them.

- Sensors are compact and unobtrusive, and easy to install. The bed sensor (fits under mattress pad) is somewhat noticeable if you're looking the sheets, but you don't feel it when you lie on top of it.

- Web interface is fairly easy to navigate, and it's very easy to change alert settings (times, individual sensors, who gets alerted and how, etc.)

- My home has good cellular coverage, but text messages can still take up to 3 or 4 minutes to reach me if there's a 'notification event' Receiving phone messages for events is a bit quicker, so this is probably attributable to my cellular carrier.

- Documentation on the individual sensors could be better. The motion detectors have 6 pages of technical detail, and the bed sensor had none. It may be that the component sensors were supplied by different manufacturers, and lacked the consistency that you'd expect from a system that lists for $399.

I'm still confused by a few messages (I still get 'low battery' warnings for the base station, even though it's been plugged in for 3 days). The web interface also allows you to set up 'Reminders' to be alerted about (e.g., text me to pick up Mom's meds at 4 p.m. on tuesday), but I haven't been able to receive my test reminders yet. If you're just worried about reminding yourself, then there are other ways to do that (using your cell phone, etc.). But I can see the Reminder function being useful if you're working with a group that's involved in caregiving.

It's a modular, plug and play system, so adding components over time should be easy. BeClose claims that sensor batteries should last up to 3 years (and are replaceable), so we'll see. The web interface lets you know if any of the sensors have low batteries.

So far, I think it's most useful for monitoring patterns over time, and somewhat useful as a quick alert system.

Keith,
We are considering this for our mother. Our biggest concern is that she sometimes loses consciousness when she gets up at night to use the bathroom (blood pressure drops dramatically). Have you further experience with the system that you can share? Your initial reaction was that it was only somewhat useful as a quick alert system. Do you still feel that way?

Thanks!

Jean -

After nearly a year of using the system, I've found it's easy and reliable for what it can do -- namely alert you to events that have recently happened (doors being opened, etc.), and provide a good chronological record of activities that the sensors monitor. For example, if you use the bed monitor, you can look back at how frequently they got up at night, when they lay down to sleep, when they wake up, etc.

We use it mainly as a 'back-up' system now, in case nobody is at the house and we want to make sure our mother hasn't wandered out the back door in the middle of the night. I'm also going to add the water detection sensor to her basement, which is prone to flooding. That might be the most useful part of the system for us during this time.

For your Mom's situation, you could program a bed sensor to alert you if the bed is vacated during a certain period (say between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.), and specify how long a period of the bed being empty should trigger an alert. For example, you could tell it to only alert you if the bed is vacant for 10 minutes or more. But that would only let you know that someone should check on things. If you added the toilet sensor, you could check if someone's sitting on the toilet. That way, if you got a vacant bed alert, but no toilet-occupied signal, you could put two and two together and know there's probably a problem.

I'd highly recommend calling their staff. They were really helpful, not forceful or deceptive about their product.

good luck.

Thank you so much for writing back. I really appreciate your response. Best of luck to you, too.

I have the Beclose system in my parents home and I have to applaud it for being and doing what they promoted it as. A great alert system with a wonderful activity dashboard. I too used to get the frequent "low battery" text about 3am, but those have stopped over the last month.

The alerts via text come a lot faster than email - which is to be expected, but ours come instantaneously which is nice when you have a wanderer.

Anyway I give it a 'big thumbs up" for relieving a lot of the stress from care-giving.

Robb