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Meet One of Our Advisors
As a former Geek Squad® Technology Education Agent, Adam Wilford knows what it takes to help families learn how to get the most out of technology. A majority of the people he's worked with are senior citizens who want to learn how to FaceTime with their grandkids or share pictures on Facebook.
Joining Assured Living as an Advisor allowed Adam to take his passion for technology one step further by introducing families to a smart home program that helps them care for an aging parent.
"The technology helps families stay connected so they're able to see that their loved one is doing okay.""The technology helps families stay connected so they're able to see that their loved one is doing okay," Adam says. "It can help make them aware of potential health issues or potential concerns around the house."
Because of that awareness of how a parent is doing without the need to constantly check in through phone calls or visits, families are able to relate to each other in a different way. As Adam explains, "It takes that connection between the family to a different level, where they're now aware of how they're doing as well."
One of the families where Adam's work has made a big difference is with two sisters in Minneapolis who were looking for a way to help care for their mom. Although the two sisters have busy lives taking care of their own families, Adam says, "They wanted a way to connect to their mom when they are not able to physically be there."
With Mom living alone in a big house with staircases, the daughters were concerned about Mom's safety and wanted to help lower the chance that she might fall without anyone around to help — a common concern for many of the families with whom Adam works. "They were concerned about Mom's safety as far as her mobility around the house, and just her being in there alone was worrisome to them as well," Adam says. The daughters were also concerned about Mom being too trusting of people coming to the front door.
When a family member contacts Best Buy about the Assured Living program, Adam first talks with them over the phone. "I call before the consultation to introduce myself and give them a little more background on what the Assured Living program is," Adam says, "and also just to learn what their concerns are prior to going in."
Next, he meets with the family in the home to discuss how Assured Living can help provide a solution for their concerns. Sometimes, as happened with the two sisters and their mom, there can be some resistance from the parent when it comes to being monitored by the sensors. As the parent sees how much the family cares about their well-being, however, they often become more open to the idea and are able to accept that family members just want to help keep them safe.
Addressing the Family's Concerns
With families concerned about falls, Adam typically recommends installing various motion sensors throughout the house that could detect a lack of motion, especially in commonly used areas, such as the living room, bathroom and around staircases.
"One of the biggest times for falls is nighttime, when you're getting up to use the restroom or go to the kitchen, that sort of thing," Adam explains. By installing sensors and setting up a custom alert that sends a notification if Mom gets out of bed and doesn't return for a certain period of time, Adam is able to help address concerns about safety during the night. He also recommends a wearable pendant for some families, which allows the parent to request emergency help by pressing a button in case of a fall.
Another common concern for families is making sure that Mom can see where she's going if she gets up during the night. For the family with two sisters, a pair of smart lamps beside the bed help prevent nighttime falls by automatically turning on via motion sensors when Mom gets out of bed. Mom also has the ability to turn on the lamps with her voice, just by saying, "Alexa, turn on the lights."
Installation & Setup
As Adam walks through the house with the family during a consultation, he points out where they would place sensors and install the different smart home products. He explains how the app and dashboard work and that Geek Squad will come to install the equipment. Adam is also present for the installation process, where he helps families set up notifications and customize the dashboard, and makes sure everyone is comfortable using the system and the smart home products.
During the installation process for the two sisters and their mom, Adam showed the family how they could use Amazon Alexa to communicate back and forth. "Using the smart speaker," Adam explains, "the sisters could drop in or send messages to their mom if she wasn't able to get to the phone."
"The sisters could drop in or send messages to their mom if she wasn't able to get to the phone."
Adam also showed the mom how she could use Alexa to call her daughter's cell phone if she needed help. In case of a fall, she could ask for help just by saying, "Alexa, call my daughter."
Installing a video doorbell at the front door addresses concerns about a parent being too trusting of strangers coming to the home. "When the doorbell rings," Adam explains, "the notification will pop up on their phone — to either the caregiver's phone or the elder's phone — and they'll be able to see who's at the front door. There's also a microphone, so they can talk to that person."
Paired with a smart door lock, families can see if the door is locked from their smartphone. Adam says, "Not only can you see who's at the front door, but you can also let them in if you trust them, or make sure that the door's locked."
Follow-Up & Support
To support each of the families he works with, Adam follows up with the family a week after the installation to see how everything is going. In the case of the sisters and their mom, they were very happy with how the program worked, and the sisters appreciated knowing that at any time they could check to see if Mom was all right. They also said that the program helped bring them closer to their mom. Instead of trying to find out if she was okay every time they called, they could focus on things other than concerns about Mom's health and safety.
"[T]hey're not worried that things are bad at home. And so when they talk to their mom, it's from a different place. It's not trying to figure out if she's okay."
One of the biggest differences for many families with Assured Living, Adam explains, is that "they're not worried that things are bad at home. And so when they talk to their mom, it's from a different place. It's not trying to figure out if she's okay." Through the Assured Living program, the topic of conversation is able to shift from "how have you been" to sharing the moments of everyday life.
Meet One of Our Advisors
Tomi Dzamonja has been with Best Buy for nine years. He was drawn to working with Assured Living as a result of his search for a similar solution to care for his parents and in-laws several years ago.
"I want to make sure everybody has the opportunity to spend time with their mom and dad for as long as they can, and that Mom and Dad are as comfortable as they can be in their home. That's my goal."
"When I looked for something like this for my dad, and when I looked for something like this for my wife's dad, there was no program that was even close to it," Tomi says. The only options were home health care or moving them into a nursing home or care facility. When Assured Living first became available, Tomi thought, "This is amazing. I wish this was a possibility seven or eight years ago for my father-in-law and two years ago for my dad, so that they could stay at home, be comfortable, and I would know if they're okay."
In his role as an Advisor, Tomi says, "I want to make sure everybody has the opportunity to spend time with their mom and dad for as long as they can, and that Mom and Dad are as comfortable as they can be in their home. That's my goal. And every day that I talk to someone and I achieve that goal, it makes me happier. It's a good feeling when you know you've made a difference for someone."
One of the families where Tomi feels like he made a difference was with a son whose mom lived out of state. By accident, the son discovered that his mom had stayed in bed an entire day without food or water, and — like many of the families with whom Tomi works — the son was worried that no one would be around to help his mom when she needed it. Tomi first connected with the son over the phone to learn more about his family's needs and share how Assured Living could help. Then he met with the family in the home where the son's mom would be living.
At the in-home consultation, Tomi says, "We were able to explain how everything works and how they're going to learn over time, that in 30–45 days you know exactly what's going on."
"We were able to explain how everything works and how they're going to learn over time, that in 30–45 days you know exactly what's going on."
"We assessed the home where she was going to stay and explained that the sensors are going to be there just in case something goes wrong, in case she stays in bed too long again and nobody can get to her."
During the visit to the home, Tomi explained to the son and his wife how Assured Living works, as he does during all his consultations. "The system's going to learn what's normal behavior for that person, and how it's going to react for that person. Over time, the system will learn more about someone's behavior and what it can do for them," Tomi says. Custom notifications would let the son and his wife know if Mom spent all day in bed again or if she wandered outside for too long in the cold. Since there would be no cameras involved, Mom could continue to live her life without any intrusions.
Installation & Setup
During the installation process with Geek Squad®, Tomi says, "We set up a bed sensor, and then we set up motion sensors and door sensors." By setting up custom notifications, Tomi was able to program the system to send a voicemail notification to the son if his mom stayed in bed past noon. If she was not in bed by midnight, he would receive a text message notification. The son would also receive a notification if the back door stayed open too long, or if it opened during certain hours of the night.
Follow-Up & Support
Tomi guides families through the entire process, from consultation to installation to follow-up support. "They can e-mail or call us directly," Tomi says, and after the system is in place, "we give a follow-up call to see if everything's okay or if they have any additional questions. People usually have questions a week or two weeks later, after they've been using the system for awhile."
Before Assured Living, the son would often call his mom every few hours to see how she's doing. This is common for many of the families with whom Tomi works; however, it can be draining for both the son or daughter and their parent, who just wants to go on living their own life. The stress of worrying about a parent can even threaten a caregiver's job because of the need to constantly check in on them during the work day. By using the dashboard and app, the son and other family members could check in proactively to see how their mom was doing throughout the day. "Now," says Tomi, "they'll receive a notification about what's going on without calling every two hours."