monitoring elderly parents


Old 02-09-10, 06:07 AM
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monitoring elderly parents

I would like to know what would be the best way to monitor and control some cooking appliances. We have elderly parents that left an electic stovetop element on for too long and we are worried it may happen again.
I would like to have the ability to turn these devices off automatically and remotely. If I could get it to text a few cellphones of family that live nearby that would be great.
I have been an electrician for over 20 years but I don't know a lot about automation. Thank you for any help you can give
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Old 02-09-10, 06:40 AM
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Hi bmc, boy does this topic bring back memories, and some are not so long ago. More than once we came home to a house full of smoke smell and a missing frying pan that got toasted, or found a burner left on high for who knows how long. We first hosted my father, then a few years later after he passed, we brought in my wife's mother and father. For those who haven't been through caring for your parents, whatever they are doing right today, they will do wrong tomorrow. We watch our children grow up, but watching our parents grow old was/is an entirely different experience, nursing home now.

Anyway, to your question. No, I haven't looked that hard, but haven't seen an off the shelf design to do what you want. But YES, it could be done. My initial thoughts were for a timer based control that would automatically turn a burner off after a set amount of time, kind of like a microwave. But a fire can start in just a few minutes.

Here is another approach. A contactor at the main panel could control the whole stove. A button near the stove would have to be pushed to initiate any cooking. Any sensors or overrides that were activated would prevent the start process. If all was clear, then cooking could begin. Heat sensors, smoke detectors, or your command from a remote pc/other could be used to trip that contactor and remove power and if desired, to keep it off. Those signals could also be used to trip an automatic dialer to notify you of a problem. I'm sure there are other ways, but it can be done.

You can also add cameras throughout the house that can be monitored via your computer.

Our default approach was pre-cooked foods and the microwave, but they eventually forgot how to use even that. We finally went to cold foods and an insulated coffee flask/dispenser. Actually, crock pots and such can be left on warm for most of the day, just have to eliminate the control switch.

Hey, good luck and enjoy them while you can. Some of our best memories came in those last few years. Maybe on another thread we could share the funny/loving ones.

Old 02-15-10, 08:26 AM
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Remote monitoring/control

Originally Posted by bmcguane View Post
I would like to have the ability to turn these devices off automatically and remotely.
You probably won't find off-the-shelf solutions, but check They have home automation systems that can be controlled over the internet. They don't have any appliance modules that will switch something like a stove, but you could rig something that one of their modules could control to disconnect power.

Automatic disconnect could be a problem because you'd need various events for triggering (duration, temperature, smoke, etc). You need to decide what you want and how much inconvenience a false alarm would cause.

You could set up a camera to monitor the stove, but someone would have to be watching a monitor.

If I could get it to text a few cellphones of family that live nearby that would be great.
X10 has a security system with an auto-dialer. Not text, but it can dial a number you specify and play a recording. Can't remember if it will dial multiple numbers.

I think I'm going to be in this situation in the not to distant future. We're providing elder care for my Mother-In-Law and I think she is in mental decline. Any suggestions on what to look for?

Old 02-15-10, 09:21 AM
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I got to thinking about this and did some checking.

The X10 Home Protector will dial 4 numbers. In addition to door/window sensors, you can use motion detectors. The motion detectors can also be used to turn on cameras. So you could use a security system to alert you that some activity needs to be monitored. If you rig up a disconnect for the stove controlled by an X10 appliance module, you could set up a timer event that will disconnect power after a certain amount of time. Still not bullet proof because it doesn't take long to start a fire and there's still some manual intervention.

I have most of the pieces and plan to start working on something for my own peace of mind. My Mother-In-Law's house is only 180 feet from ours, but we haven't been away for an overnight trip since my Father-In-Law passed away. It would be nice to be able to go somewhere and still be able to check on her.

Old 11-26-10, 05:44 AM
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I thought you could setup a camera in the kitchen pointed at all the devices that could get warm. Using an infra red sensor in the camera that would detect these events and that would turn off the stove etc automatically after say 15-25 minutes with an x-10 controller on the stove 220 volt type or 120 volt type on coffe pot etc.

you could also get in line controllers for each burner if you are so inclined. The reliabliity of these devices would need resets about a few times each day and a "secure" check when you vist.

Control from the outside could be achived with an telephone line x10 controller or a more expensive dsl line , do they do internet ? controller device..
Old 11-26-10, 07:37 AM
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This is outside my expertise like almost everything else . . . Iím wondering if you should place this post in the alarm forums. There are smoke detectors which can be monitored by a central station. Iím also wondering why it could not be set up to ring your phone rather than a central alarm company if that is your preference. Being only 180 ft. away, a loud audible alarm might allow you to hear a smoke alarm triggered in their kitchen, and cover those times when youíre not away.

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