Monthly Archives: February 2012

Send Text-Message Reminders to Your Phone

By Rick Broida, PCWorld

Tying a string around your finger is so 19th-century. These days, if you want to remember to do something, you get your phone to remind you.

Ah, but in my experience, most phones aren’t very good at nagging. In fact, many don’t even have alarm-capable task apps. Even Siri, which you can vocally instruct to “remind me to follow-up with part supplier at 10 a.m. Monday,” only issues its notices once. They’re too easy to miss.

That’s why I love, love, love the Web service Oh, Don’t Forget. With it you can set up a simple reminder that gets delivered to your phone (or someone else’s) as a text message, something I find a lot harder to overlook or ignore.

Using your browser, you simply enter your phone number, the desired delivery date and time, and the reminder you want sent. Then click Create and you’re done.

For example, I’m headed out-of-town next week. There’s one work-related task I need to perform while on vacation. Rather than jumping through the hoops of creating a new calendar entry, setting an alarm for it, and all that, I set up a text-message reminder in Oh, Don’t Forget. It took about 10 seconds.

Similarly, I could create a reminder that goes to an employee or co-worker at a designated time. The service will transmit to whatever mobile number you enter; it doesn’t have to be yours. (Granted, the potential for abuse here is huge. Be good, no pranks!)

I’ve been using ODF for several months, and it’s always worked flawlessly. It’s even smart enough to know what time zone my phone is in and schedule the reminder accordingly. (In other words, if I create a reminder for, say, 9 a.m., it won’t send it at 6 a.m. if I’m three time zones over.)

The real beauty of Oh, Don’t Forget? You don’t have to sign up for anything, register for anything, confirm anything, or pay anything. Just three quick steps and you’re done. It’s free (though standard messaging rates apply), and blissfully easy to use.

That said, you might want to consider going “pro.” Oh, Don’t Forget Premium lets you set up recurring messages (kind of like an SMS-powered to-do list), review message logs, maintain an address book, and so on. It costs $4.95 per month or $47.50 annually.

Personally, I’m happy to use the free version for the occasional reminder. It works like a charm.

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New Devices Help Seniors Stay Longer in Their Own Homes

I realize this article is a year old, but I feel it bears repeating. My mother is elderly and has age-related Macular Degeneration, which presents many challenges in her life, mostly driving. She has often told me how much losing the ability to drive is so upsetting since it is a blow to her independence. We have had talks of what this means for her future of living independently. In rereading this article, it made me think of her and others who face the added loss of independence when forced to leave their home.

My profession takes me into the homes of many elderly who have had to face the decision to leave all they know and hold familiar to move into assisted living, or into the house of a loved one. I think it benefits all of us if we think of ways to help our loved ones stay independent and thriving on their own as long as possible. After the life long job they have done for us we owe them nothing less than the best possible scenario for them to live out the end of their days as  independent as possible.

So in that frame of thought I present this article again. I do so because I know that technology advances exponentially so fast that new ideas are developed quickly. As Mr. Wang says in the article, “There are more and more products out there, more and more technologies available,” Wang said. “It’s an emerging field. I don’t think we’re done with all those brilliant ideas yet.” So once again here is a thought-provoking article. As usual, thanks for reading…..

New Devices Help Seniors Stay Longer in Their Own Homes

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 18, 2011 (HealthDay News) — Seniors who want to remain in their homes despite illness and infirmity can get a high-tech assist these days.

So can their children who might worry about an elderly parent living alone, often far from family members.

The 1980s-era medical alert pendants made famous by their television advertising (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) are now among a wide array of devices that can help keep an eye on aging parents and get them help when they need it.

Available technologies include:

  • Sensors in the home to track an older person’s movement, from the front door to the medicine cabinet to the refrigerator to the stove. The sensors are linked with computers that can issue alerts when people deviate from their routine.
  • Global positioning system devices, using the GPS technology that’s become so common in cars, that can help locate someone with dementia who’s wandered from home.
  • Computerized pill boxes that track whether medication is being taken on time.

“The notion behind these technologies is that people stay in their homes with some peace of mind on both their and their families’ part,” said Elinor Ginzler, AARP’s senior vice president for livable communities. “In many cases, sensors are actually placed in various places throughout the older person’s home. They are continuously tracking data. More or less all of them are looking for changes in that typical pattern and can note that change and alert responsible parties.”

Ginzler gave the example of a “sensor checking to see if the front door is opened to pick up the newspaper every day by a certain time, because that’s what Dad does.” If he usually gets the paper by 7:30 a.m. and it’s now 8:30 a.m., an alert might be sent to his son or daughter letting them know about the deviation in his schedule. They then have the option of calling to check in on him.

It might seem that older parents would reject the loss of privacy that can come with so much electronic eavesdropping, but that’s an incorrect assumption, Ginzler said.

Nearly nine in 10 seniors in an AARP survey said they would be willing to give up some privacy if it allowed them to remain in their own homes longer. When asked about specific home safety technologies, seniors often said they would be willing to use them even if they weren’t previously aware of the devices.

“Resoundingly, people said, ‘Yeah, I’ll learn new things,'” Ginzler said. “There’s a resounding motivation for learning new things when your independence is on the line.”

Though such devices aren’t in wide use yet, a significant number of people seem to be taking advantage of them.

Harry Wang, director of health and mobile product research for Parks Associates, a Dallas-based market research firm that tracks digital technology trends, said that with “the senior safety tracking and monitoring that helps seniors remain in the home longer, we’ve seen a little bit better traction over the last several years.”

About one in 10 caregivers of senior citizens use tracking sensors that can remotely detect a potential safety hazard in the home, according to an AARP survey of caregivers. About 16 percent of caregivers said they had used some type of emergency response system.

Parks Associates has projected that by 2012 more than 3.4 million senior citizens in the United States will be using networked sensor applications to monitor their movements and improve their health.

“There are more and more products out there, more and more technologies available,” Wang said. “It’s an emerging field. I don’t think we’re done with all those brilliant ideas yet.”

However, Wang and Ginzler cited three things that must happen for such technologies to succeed:

The design must be simple, elegant and enticing so that seniors can easily learn how to use the device — and perhaps even enjoy it. “You have to make sure the solutions are well-designed, in the sense that it’s exciting,” Wang said. “It’s not reminding seniors that they are old and fragile in the home, but reminding them that they are still young and able to enjoy life and remain in the home.”

The devices must come down in price. “The No. 1 barrier is the cost of the system,” Wang said. “They must be affordable to seniors.”

Companies and families must market the devices properly. “A lot of this has to do with the way the technology is presented, and the family conversation about this,” Ginzler said. “The message needs to be, ‘We want to make sure you can stay in your house and be independent the way you want to be, and we can respond if you get in trouble.’ When that family conversation goes well, it results in peace of mind both for that person and their family members.”