After we sold our family home, my widowed mother moved into my divorced aunt’s townhouse. Both ladies agreed to the arrangement, but this was an experiment of sorts concocted by my cousin and me.  We thought the octogenarian sisters would enjoy hanging out under the same roof in their later years.

Boy were we wrong.  Both ladies were set in their ways, had different needs and ways of living. After six months they split up.  Mom moved into an assisted living facility and my aunt stayed put.

But while the two sisters lived together, I took a number of steps to ensure their safety.  One was to install an Alert-1 Monitoring System.  The system cost about $30 per month and came with red-buttoned wrist bands—mom wore hers, my aunt refused—and wall mounts with similar red buttons.  If the button was pressed in an emergency, a call would automatically go through to a 24/7 operator who would then call a family member, and 911 if necessary.

In theory, purchasing the Alert-1 system was a sound decision, but in practice it was a complete waste of money.  Because the real mishaps occurred when the sisters (aka “the octos”) went out together or alone.  On one such occasion I dropped everything to drive over to the townhouse because no one answered the phone for hours.  On another, I broke away from a nice meal in DC’s Penn Quarter when the ladies were locked out of their home.  Fun times!

The number of gadgets available to help keep seniors safe in their homes and enhance their quality of life is mind-boggling.  And which ones are most effective depends on factors such as whether your loved one is living alone or with you, and the level of his or her cognitive functioning.

How do you decide what’s worth buying and what’s not?

First get in the mood by watching this trailer for a charming film now streaming on Netflix called Cyber Seniors:


And here are 5 information-packed articles to get you started on the gadget options for your family:

Amy Goyer on AARP Blog
10 Must-Have Gadgets for Caregivers
“Some of these handy items are simple, and others are high-tech. Prices can vary widely but most of the gadgets are relatively inexpensive, and one of my favorites is even homemade. You can find all of these products online, and many of them are available at your local hardware, electronics or department store.”

Michelle Seitzer on website
Top Tech Devices That Make Staying Home Safer for Seniors
“Though seniors are becoming more technology savvy all the time, many are still skeptical about the latest devices. But when someone wants to age in place instead of leaving their home, technology can be a lifesaver.”

Tim Watt on The Sunrise Blog
8 Gadgets to Buy for Seniors This Season
“Caregivers and family members know how often they worry about the beloved seniors in their family. If you’ve caught yourself fretting about their eating habits, their difficulty working the TV or the possibility of them injuring themselves, worry no more. Luckily, there’s a gadget for all these issues and more.”

Bayshore Healthcare on Bayshore website
Tech gadgets revealed at CES 2015 for seniors
“The Consumer Electronic Show isn’t just a show for those Google-glass wearing tech aficionados. Every year, more products are introduced targeting an aging demographic. Here’s a look at some developments that caught our attention this year.”

Erica Manfred on Senior Planet
Gadgets for Us
“I put out a request on an Internet list serve offering to review innovative gadgets for that are useful seniors and received a slew of stuff – good, bad and worse than indifferent. The first thing I noticed was that the more useless and badly designed the product, the more elaborate and hard to manage was the packaging.”

Are certain gadgets working for you?  Tell us all about them in the comments.