Technology: Look After Your Parents While You're Away

By Joanne Milner

Moving to Canada is exciting and stressful. Moving can be even more stressful if you have elderly parents to look after.

A new multilingual appliance can help you look after your parents in their own home, or from your home, while you're out. The appliance can speak and respond to any language including Mandarin, Cantonese, French, German, Spanish and English or can do tasks at a simple press of a button.

The appliance called Mon Ami, meaning my friend, can look like a large book on a shelf or a small piece of furniture. It is wirelessly networked to devices around the house. Your parents would wear a small microphone on their lapel. And they don't have to be computer literate.

They simply give Mon Ami voice commands and "she" responds without having to be trained to recognize their voices. Mon Ami can also be modified to respond to your parents in your voice. She can help your parents do numerous things around the house as well as let you to know how your parents are doing, wherever you are.

Mon Ami, developed under the guidance of Terry D'Silva of Tertec Enterprises Inc. says, "In Canada, with the growing elderly population, spaces in long term care facilities and retirement homes have not kept pace. Even if spaces were available, the cost of such a facility is beyond the means of many elders. In any case, most elders, given the choice, would prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible."

Mon Ami can wake your parents in the morning. Your parents could ask her for the date, weather and the latest news headlines. Mon Ami can read a list of the day's events including birthdays and medical appointments. She can be asked to turn on the radio or television, start the coffee maker or boil hot water for tea. Then she can read a chapter of a book, upon request.

Mon Ami could check her lists and suggest she order groceries or other items online. She could remind your parents to take medications or vitamins. She'll request a response to ensure it was done. If she doesn't get a response, she'll remind your parents at regular intervals.

Mon Ami could dial a friend's phone number, upon request, or phone a few friends and set up a conference call. Mon Ami can also send voice mail and read the responses.

Mon Ami can monitor your parents sleep patterns and the security of the home and would contact the appropriate people immediately in the event of an emergency. You can also get remote access to Mon Ami enabling you to manipulate home devices such as turning off the stove or lights.

When you phone your parents, Mon Ami could set up a video conference with them. And at the end of the day, she could forward you a log of their activities.

Mon Ami costs approximately $3,000 USD including set-up and installation and depending on peripherals chosen. For more information contact Tertec Enterprises Inc. at http://www.mymonami.com

Joanne Milner is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She has moved 16 times cross continent, coming to Canada as a child, then returning again as a young adult.

CNM