Giving a coffee maker a dual purpose

My friend, let’s call him Alfred, who is in his 70s, has been trying to devise a system to alert his close contacts if something were to happen to him while he’s at home.

He’s sensitive to the topic because his former girlfriend died in her home and it took over 48 hours for her body to be found. It pains Alfred to think of her having died and not being discovered for such a long time. She had a dog, and the poor animal was without food, water or his master for two days.

Alfred has a beloved canine companion, too, that he wants to be sure is fed and cared for if he becomes incapacitated and cannot call for help. He has an Apple Watch, which has a built-in electrical heart sensor, as well as fall detection and an emergency SOS—one piece of technology to help him in case he falls or his heart begins to fail.

In addition to those tools, Alfred has an idea for something else, something tied to his coffee maker.

Like clockwork each morning, Alfred gets up to make his morning coffee. What if a text or phone call could be sent to his trusted contacts if one morning he didn’t turn on his coffee maker?

This is a different concept than an alert system where a person can press a button and call for help, or even the personal alert system that automatically detects a fall and calls for help on your behalf. Alfred is trying to solve a potentially bigger problem than needing rescue from a fall.

What if his heart stops beating while he’s sleeping? Sure, the coffee maker wouldn’t alert anyone in time to save him, but at least he’d know someone would be alerted to check on his dog the next morning.

I asked our care managers at Senior Concerns if they’d ever heard of such a thing. They both replied they had not but thought it was a fantastic idea. After doing a few hours of internet searching, I came across two solutions that don’t involve the coffee maker but they might be answers to Alfred’s concerns.

The first is the brainchild of local resident Henry Chan. It’s called CareRinger, and it’s like having a call buddy. CareRinger will make a daily call to you at a designated time and will notify a friend or family member if the call isn’t answered. This simple solution requires no purchase of equipment.

CareRinger calls at the time of the participant’s choosing, so the person knows it’s not an unwanted robocall. It works with both landlines and cellphones. A user can also “check in” early if they like, and CareRinger will know not to call them that day.

You can learn more about CareRinger and sign up for a free trial at careringer.com.

The second solution is Care Beacon. This smartphone app and service acts as an emergency alert system by monitoring the movement of a loved one. If someone is unresponsive (showing no movement) or falls, CareBeacon automatically sends a text and voice message containing their GPS location to a designated family member or friend.

You can read more about the product at care-beacon.com.

As more of us reach a certain age, and especially if we live alone, these tools provide an important safety net while allowing us the dignity and independence we all crave.

So, Keurig, Cuisinart and Mr. Coffee: The challenge has been made. Who will be first to respond?

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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