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Devices for Aging

Gadgets to keep granny safe, healthy and connected

by Josh Rubin in Tech on 25 January 2011

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No matter how patiently explained, it's tough for older people to keep up with today's complex technologies. At the same time, user-friendly connectivity—as an increasingly important part of safety and health—is becoming more common. Two companies catering to the needs of seniors are Swedish brand Doro, specializing in simplified home and mobile phones, and Sonamba, a company in North Carolina that created the ultimate well-being monitoring system.

Doro's phones are great for just making calls, and some models even have pictures of who to call instead of a dial pad, such as the Doro MemoryPlus corded phone pictured above. This model and most of the others (including the mobiles) are hearing aid compatible and feature large keypad buttons. Nominated for a Red Dot Award, the PhoneEasy mobile phone (pictured top right) also comes with security functions like pre-recorded SMS alerts, an automatic "man down" alarm and an easily-activated emergency dialing button.

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Designed to look inexpensive for price-conscious seniors, the Sonamba monitoring system is actually packed with advanced technology. The device is an interactive digital photo frame when not in use, but actually serves as a serious watchdog for the elderly person in your life.

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With a user-friendly interface, the device keeps track of medication times, monitors motion and sound (and will notify you if there is lack of extended activity), allows seniors to send and receive text messages, and features a personal emergency response system with both a button on the unit and a wearable pendant. The Sonamba also connects to an iPhone app, so that a caregiver or relative can stay in the loop remotely. To see a full illustration on how the device works, take the tour of its many capabilities.

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