We need an in-house only life-alert type system.
June 21, 2007 9:56 PM   Subscribe

We need an in-house only life-alert type system.

My dad (61) has been in the ICU. The doctor did an angioplasty and stent insertion, which pushed back a bit of plaque that may embolize and move. Since it's not a blood clot, anti-clot meds don't help. They've decided to just leave it alone for a month and see what happens. He will be coming home in a few days (hopefully). Dad sleeps at the other end of the house from my mom and I, in his recliner in the family room. (Been that way since his cancer surgery in 2000. He's a hypochondriac - don't ask.) Alternate sleep arrangements may not be possible... if we sleep where he is (which I'm sure we will take turns doing for a few days at least), we'll have to sleep in a recliner.

In February, he had a dizzy spell and fell down (due to an inner ear infection) and yelled for help and we didn't hear him. (Mom was watching TV in the living room, I was in bed.) My mom is slightly hard of hearing, our central air/furnace unit sounds like a jet plane landing, sometimes we have fans running, the TV is really loud so she can hear, etc etc etc.

We'd like some kind of in-house chime that will be loud enough to wake us if my dad needs help and presses a button. We do not want it to call 911 automatically. Ideally it needs to have 3 receivers that will alarm (living room, my bedroom, mom's bedroom) or else a really loud single receiver. I have heard of one life-alert system that will only call pre-defined phone numbers with a pre-recorded message, but what if we're on the phone? (We don't have call waiting.) In the case of an in-house intercom - what if he can't speak? The only thing we can think of is rigging up a wireless doorbell, but who knows if we can find one loud enough.

posted by IndigoRain to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Baby monitors.
posted by Brittanie at 10:04 PM on June 21, 2007

Whistle on a string around your neck.
Leave all doors open at all times.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:55 PM on June 21, 2007

Baby monitors + a very loud thing he can make noise with (bike horn with bulb, buzzer from the game Taboo, loud whistleetc). It should be something that won't get knocked away from him, and that he can operate without much energy.

There are also wireless doorbell kits.

These solutions would be pretty inexpensive, so you could double up (give him a whistle, bike horn and also get the wireless doorbell thing, eg)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:18 AM on June 22, 2007

Well, jet plane noisy AC/furnace or not, if a 112db personal air horn doesn't get your attention, it should stir up your neighbors.

Complete with handy belt or wrist strap for easy portability.
posted by mdevore at 12:26 AM on June 22, 2007

Use walkie-talkies. Most have rechargeable batteries; just leave them plugged in most of the time. You can get 3 that'll run on the same channel, they're cheap and good. Even if dad can't speak the burst of static when he presses the talk button will alert you that he needs you.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:13 AM on June 22, 2007

Response by poster: We did think of baby monitors, but he watches TV when we're asleep, and that might prevent us from getting some sleep. Although I do like the idea of keeping them turned down and giving him something loud to make a noise into it. Keep the ideas coming if you have them!
posted by IndigoRain at 4:14 AM on June 22, 2007

Best answer: This product seems to meet your needs.
posted by tastybrains at 5:34 AM on June 22, 2007

I had a similar situation 20 years ago when I was taking care of my mom after her heart surgery. Back then cheap wireless wasn't an option, so I got a length of wire, a pushbutton switch, a nine volt battery and a buzzer from Radio Shack. Wired it all up in a small plastic box. Worked like a charm and it was loud enough to hear at the other end of the house. The product that tastybrains linked to looks like it might word for you as well, as long is it's loud enough.

On a side note, the first few weeks my mom was home from her surgery I didn't get much sleep at night and it was pretty stressful at times. You might want to set up a schedule with your mom so the two of you alternate on "dad watch" and don't burn yourselves out. And best wishes for your dad's recovery!
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:08 AM on June 22, 2007

Best answer: Have you thought about wireless doorbells? We have a couple at work. The actual doorbell you ring would be light and small enough for him to keep very close, possibly even wear around his neck, and the kit we had came with two receptors for when it rang. Ours have little volume levels on them so you could adjust that, and I believe it has three different options for types of rings so you change it to something you would immediately recognize as him.

This one looks a little cheesey, but it does mention keeping it by an elderly father's bed so maybe it would work. Good luck.
posted by Ugh at 8:49 AM on June 22, 2007

Oops. Damn me for reading all the way to the last sentence and then stopping! But I wanted to let you know we use our doorbells in a 55,000 square foot store and yes, they are definitely loud enough.
posted by Ugh at 8:54 AM on June 22, 2007

The first thing that come to mind for me would be FRS radios with a call button. So long as all the units were identical, this should work fine. All your dad would have to do is hit the call button for a moment and all the other units on that channel will ring or warble or make other terrible noises. Some will even vibrate, which might work better for your mom.
posted by jjb at 9:23 AM on June 22, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone!!
posted by IndigoRain at 12:21 AM on June 23, 2007

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