Hi, my name’s Natalie and for the past 2 years I’ve been developing a product called the Proximity Button. My mum’s cared for people with dementia for the past 15 years. It’s her experiences and stories that inspired me to create a simple, affordable product that will quickly alert carer’s to wandering and keep people safer.
From left: Natalie, Bob (cared for by Caroline) and Caroline (Natalie’s mum)
The Proximity Button is a very small sensor worn by the person with dementia. The Button connects to the carer’s mobile phone via Bluetooth. If the Button wearer wanders and the phone can no longer ‘see’ the Button, the phone will alarm to warn the carer. Simple.
Things to love about the Button:
The Button’s clever design means it’s very secure. Not only, is there a strong magnet to hold it in place, there is also a handy strap too.
The Button can easily be placed out of sight should you be worried about your loved one noticing it and removing it
The Button connects to your phone so there’s no need to worry about carrying around an extra device
The Proximity Button is not a tracking device and therefore doesn’t rely on expensive GPS technology. The Proximity Button is a smart warning device that prevents wandering from happening in the first place.
I now have a brilliant working prototype and I’m weeks away from launching my crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to fully manufacture the Button – very exciting!
From now until the launch, I’m trying to ensure we tell absolutely everyone about the Button. It was through reaching out to people that I met Emily – the Button was of big interest to Emily as her mum has Alzheimer’s and has recently begun wandering and leaving the house on her own. Emily and her dad have kindly offered to trial the Proximity Button and help spread the word. Emily will be trialling the product in June so be sure to check the blog again to see how it went.
Read on for the Q&A between myself and Emily:
What was your first reaction to the Proximity Button?
At first I thought it looked a bit like a hearing aid! I was surprised at how small it is. I like how it feels. My first thoughts were, my Mum will take that off but when I saw how strong the magnet is to attach it to clothing and learnt from Natalie it could be clipped onto the back of a t-shirt I thought, that’s great.
How do you think the Proximity Button will help you?
Hopefully it will alert Dad (her primary carer) that she has left the house, if she does get out and prevent wandering and another fall. She has in the past fallen in the road and broken her wrist. We welcome anything that can prevent this.
Is wandering something you thought you would have to deal with?
Everyone with dementia is different so we couldn’t be certain it would happen to Mum. Once it happened once we knew it would happen again and it did.
Have you considered GPS products?
We hadn’t considered GPS products. Mum is supposed to wear a bracelet, which is recognised by emergency services, alerting them to the fact that she has dementia and enabling anyone who may find her, to return her to her home address but she just takes the bracelet off.
The doors to the house are always locked and keys now kept away from her (upon GP advise) however, oversights happen e.g. keys left in the door and it is always upon these occasions that she has wandered. To therefore wear GPS all the time we think might be unnecessary. We would hope to prevent the situation happening in the first place.
Do you think this product could make a difference?
I think it would make a difference to those with smart phones and loved ones with dementia who do wander, yes. It could prevent wandering in those cases. When an individual wanders, dangerous situations can happen. Busy roads, train lines and even deep water all become major fears for a relative wandering. They are at complete risk once unattended and out in public. Very scary.
If you are interested in the Button, please visit Natalie’s website and enter your email address – that way you will be the first to know when it’s ready to buy!