Caring Currents

Big Brother is Watching....Mom and Dad

Last updated: Apr 29, 2008


A new breed of high-tech assisted living community is taking a "more is less" approach to retirement living. By using cutting-edge technology to monitor residents' every move -- even as they sleep -- a place like Oregon's Oatfield Estates actually offers elders more freedom to roam than a traditional, lower-tech facility.

About half of the one million Americans currently in assisted living suffer from some form of dementia, and communities often limit residents' movements -- sometimes to the point of locked wards -- for fear they'll wander off and endanger themselves.

At Oatfield, sensors in the walls, infrared radio tracking badges, and transponders residents wear on a chain or pin mean they can amble the campus-like grounds at will. If they stray too far, staff are alerted via computer and rush to assist them.

Oatfield even offers adult children the capacity to monitor their parents (with the parents' permission) from their home computers. Logging onto a family portal lets you know whether Mom is losing weight, how she spent her day,  even how she slept the night before.

It's all for your parents' own good, right? Unless you're the type to worry about details like privacy and how far we should let technology into our lives.

What do you think? Would you sleep better knowing an eye in the sky was watching over your parents -- or would it give you the jitters?

Next week: Big Brother for seniors -- the at-home version.

Image courtesy of  Elite Care .