It’s like something I used to dream of. After my father’s stroke, his cell phone was like a foreign entity with great power and mystery, handled like a grenade in his hands. Yet, he was also obsessed with it. He knew it was his lifeline, his one method of communication should he ever be lost or alone, and attempting to understand it consumed most of his time. I wanted to just take away the iPhone and find some other way, but his genuine efforts to master this technology were something I couldn’t dismiss. If he set a goal for himself, I didn’t feel right saying, “No, you cannot use your own cell phone and you cannot try.”
It was on and off. At times, he seemed to be able to use it, even getting on Facebook and spending hours looking at everyone’s photos of their grandchildren. The change was drastic and sudden when, one day, he asked my husband to “get rid of that” as he pointed to every single app on his phone. I realized it had become some source of paranoia for him, and he became fixated in an unhealthy way.
Now, I am back to being a long-distance caregiver, as my father is now in an assisted living facility states away. He doesn’t get good reception in his room, and relies on wi-fi to be able to call. The wifi was down, and my dad’s phone was off for days.
When I first met Robert Felgar, the Founder and CEO of RAZ Mobility, and took a look at his Memory Phone for people with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, dementia, or intellectual disabilities, it seemed like a crack in the cement. Someone was trying to solve this unique but enormous problem. What has truly gotten me excited is the newly-released Care App that allows the caregiver to program and monitor the phone remotely.
As the caregiver, you know, you are the only key to your loved one being able to use a phone properly, and you don’t want to take that away from your loved one. It’s a sense of independence they have, even though you are behind the scenes.
First of all, for the patient, there is only one screen. It looks like an iPhone, but there are no apps, nothing to distract, not even voicemail -- nothing to send your loved one into a spiral of paranoia and confusion. One screen with large pictures - pictures of the people you, as the caregiver, have chosen to be the readily available contacts that can be called with just a tap on their photo.
Here you have pictures and names of 6 contacts (you can add up to 30). The Emergency 911 can also be changed to route to the RAZ Emergency Service, in order to mitigate unnecessary 911 calls. You also have the option of allowing a dial pad, if you think your loved one can handle having a dial pad.
All of the features of the Remote Manage Care App:
Remote Manage provides caregivers the unprecedented ability to remotely manage ALL aspects of their senior’s cell phone through a simple app or online portal. The app and/or portal are used by the caregiver to create and edit contacts, send the senior reminders, set up hours during which the senior cannot place calls, track the location of the phone/user, check the phone’s battery power or signal strength, select certain options, such as the option to disable the power button or restrict incoming calls to contacts, preventing unwanted predatory robocalls, and much more. Remote Manage can be used by caregivers from anywhere in the United States or Canada; changes made with Remote Manage are reflected on the RAZ Memory Cell Phone right away.
Depending on your loved one’s level of advancement in their dementia, you can, from the Remote Care App, choose to disable the power button so the phone is always on, choose people (like the doctor) who can call your loved one but your loved one cannot call them; choose auto-answer so your loved one doesn’t have to navigate accepting the call, and enforce quiet hours so your loved one won’t do something like call you all night or while you are at work.
A testimonial from Twitter:
The next feature to be implemented: video calls.
This is a company and a product that moves the needle forward on tech for caregivers and tech for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.