This story was originally published in the Chicago Tribune Prime Time senior living section.
Monitoring your health at home has become easier with products that used to be found only in a doctor’s office. Home safety monitoring has gotten smarter, too, using GPS, cellular networks and even smartphones. Here are a few gadgets that can help alert you to potential health issues before they become emergencies — and also help you cope with actual emergencies when they occur.
Omron 7 Series Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor
If you have trouble taking your blood pressure with an arm cuff the traditional way, this wrist blood pressure monitor may be worth a try. The Omron 7 Series is a slim, portable cuff that allows you to check your blood pressure quickly and discreetly. It fits on your wrist, which you hold at heart level to get the reading. To ensure accurate readings, it automatically activates when your wrist is in the proper position. It also has an irregular heartbeat detector and a blood pressure risk category indicator. It sells for $63.99 at omronhealthcare.com and at stores such as CVS, Walgreens, Target and Walmart.
OneTouch UltraMini blood glucose tester
This tiny blood glucose tester is small enough to keep anywhere around the house and pop into a purse or pocket to use on the go. It earned the highest rating in Consumer Reports’ analysis of blood glucose test meters. The OneTouch UltraMini can store as many as 500 of your past readings. It features a large, easy-to-read screen and three-step testing. Sells for about $20 at drugstores and discount stores.
Monitoring the activity in a loved one’s home is automatic with BeClose, a system of discreet, wireless sensors that are placed around the home. Simply plug in the base unit, position the sensors, and log into your account online to see it working. The BeClose system quickly “learns” a person’s routine, then uses the cellular network to alert caregivers when that person has veered from their routine or fallen. A call button and a window sensor are included in the hardware packages, which range from $299 to $399, depending on the size of the home. There is a monthly $79 service charge, as well. Visit beclose.com for details.
AZO Urinary Tract Infection Test Strips
Urinary tract infections can be painful and develop into serious conditions if left untreated. Often, people do not know they have a UTI and it may be difficult to get to the doctor to do a urine test. These at-home test strips give you a reading in two minutes. They have an easy-to-use handle and their accuracy is similar to the strips used by doctors. While they do not replace a doctor’s care, they can let you know whether you need to get treatment ASAP. Sold for about $13 for a box of three strips, at drug stores and grocery stores.
GreatCall Splash medical alert pendant
The GreatCall Splash is a versatile, compact mobile medical alert pendant with GPS built in. It is designed to work both inside and outside the home, so your loved ones will have emergency response service no matter where they go. It is even waterproof, so can be used in the shower. When the button is pressed, the unit connects to an emergency response system via the Verizon cellular network. It will go three days on a charge. The 2.9-by-1.7 inch Splash weighs 1.8 ounces and is one of the most affordable emergency response devices at $49.99, with a $14.99 monthly fee. Visit greatcall.com for more details.